It was unclear just a few months ago whether or not Mourn would be releasing a new album anytime soon. The band took to social media back in December, accusing their Spanish label Sones of withholding payments and effectively holding their album "hostage." It was a blunt and bold move and one that obviously paid off, as six months later, Ha, Ha, He. has thankfully seen the light of day. It accomplishes everything you would expect a sophomore album to do: it builds off the promise of its predecessor and sees a band coming into their own and developing their own unique style and sound.

Probably the least expected thing about it though is just how jaw-droppingly good it actually is. That isn't meant as a discredit to the band considering their self-titled debut was nothing to take lightly. Mourn was originally recorded over a couple of days live in studio two years ago, and it captured all of the raw aggression and energy of a young band that already seemed to have a pretty good idea of where they wanted to go. Though their influences were easy to spot--especially in the short sharp songs that felt like nods to everything from '70s punk to grunge--their take on those influences were pretty distinct and confident, which was impressive for a band whose members were still in their teens.

It's that same ability to shape their influences into something distinctly their own that makes Ha, Ha, He. even more impressive. Though their music is still very much rooted in punk, as evident on 'Flee,' 'Irrational Friend,' and 'President Bullshit,' they are more refined takes than anything that came before them. Mourn have quickly moved beyond making simple thrashy songs. Everything from post-punk to traces of Throwing Muses, Sleater-Kinney and Sonic Youth can be found here, be it in the sometimes odd harmonies or the complex arrangements. The major difference is that Ha, Ha, He. doesn't feel as nearly indebted to its influences as Mourn sometimes did, and the result is an album that carves out its own niche rather than trying to fit into someone else's.

One of the many highlights of that album was the melodies threaded into the charged tempos, and thankfully they explore their pop sensibilities with greater range here. 'Brother Brother' and 'Howard' might be some of the catchiest songs they've written, harnessing the spirit of punk into rich melodic settings without tarnishing any of its raw energy and attitude. The music has grown more complex and focused, and also more diverse. 'Evil Dead' sways with a dense jagged groove; the three-minute-plus slow burner 'Fry Me' sports a funk-driven Fugazi flavored breakdown that stands as a highlight of how intricate their musicianship has grown.

As a band, Mourn are developing at an almost astonishing rate, which means that in just a couple of years, Ha, Ha, He. could likely be rendered as little else than a snapshot charting their rapid progress. Considering the current musical landscape is mostly dominated by indie-pop, EDM, hip-hop and R&B, it begs the age old question as to whether or not "guitar music" is at all relevant in 2016. Tempting as it is to point to an album like this as proof, you might be hard-pressed to find a better argument.