As the title implies, the inspiration behind Lessons stems from life’s biggest ones. Motivated by late illustrator and renowned children’s author Maurice Sendak’s musings on the creative process and what it means to be an artist (listen to this remarkable interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air HERE), the band captured this message and the fragile, oft-irrational comedy of life in sonic form. Produced by Dan Molad (Lucius) and The Ryantist, the notion of life’s immediacy is kept firmly at the forefront of Lessons. The band toys with the theme of living beyond a normal lifetime- the concept of reliving and rewriting our lives, and the lessons we can all learn along the way.
Sonically, Lessons marks a departure from Ha Ha Tonka’s more stripped down style to one that is filled with lush instrumentation. When recording the album, HHT kept that notion of immediacy in mind. The producers would oftentimes hit record in the control room and come join the band in the studio. They'd pick up something and play along and it might not be for hours until they got "the take." It was in this manner, that several of the tracks were recorded full band in one single take. Instead of adding pressure, it released it and seemed to foster a carefree and extremely creative environment. Ha Ha Tonka were simply playing in the moment.
The first single “Colorful Kids” is both bright and melancholy, the upbeat melodies belie its darker subject matter. “Rewrite Our Lives” is an energetic cut containing a runaway chorus and rolling percussion. “Arabella,” meanwhile, is an initially more downtempo piece with a vulnerable hesitance that gradually builds to a stomping refrain. The title track is a bittersweet cut filled with buzzy, distorted electric guitar that perhaps carries the message of the album truest to form.