Music

Youngblood Hawke: Wake Up

Youngblood Hawke's first full length shows promise -- uneven in parts, but a sign of [possibly] good things to come.


Youngblood Hawke

Wake Up

Label: Universal Republic
US Release Date: 2013-04-30
UK Release Date: 2013-04-30
Label Webiste
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Youngblood Hawke's Wake Up takes the four cuts from their debut EP and adds eight more for a mostly satisfying full-length. They create colorful, elastic indie electro-pop and, most of the time, it measures up.

Opener "Rootless" is a sprightly track, peppered with early '80s U2-style echoing guitars, nestled atop an insistent, pulsating groove that pushes the envelope of feeling cluttered, but never actually gets to that extreme, resulting in a song that pulls off a Goldilocks effect -- just right. "We Come Running" keeps the vibe of this album going nicely with a very wild-young thing approach coloring the lyrics. "Dreams" is the first moment the proceedings slow down a bit and yet the epic swoop is still there on the elastic, yell-it-to-the-rafters delivery in lines like "We've been waiting on these dreams to feel real for so long." The harmonies and joyful, effervescent feel make it one of this album's crown jewels.

The style-studious feel permeating this album points out how it is both a great beginning and a bit derivative. The band members have clearly done their homework, and often sound more accomplished than a band this early into their career ought to. Most of the time the "homework" results in pleasant variations on the themes they clearly know and love. Occasionally it sounds less like an homage and more like outright cribbing in order to inject a particular feeling into a song. For example, "Stars (Hold on)" opens up with string swells and a beat that feels like a leftover from Viva La Vida era Coldplay. This doesn't make it a bad song necessarily, just not as original-sounding as it could have been. On the flip side, this approach sometimes works to their favor. "Live and Die" is a slow-moving, near-breakbeat anthem that manages to evoke other styles without sounding like a copy. The hat trick here is fusing breakbeat and electro with pop and actually having it actually sound good. Not an easy thing to pull off and have it sound worthwhile. "Sleepless Streets" pulls a surprise one-two, starting out almost sounding like raw, early Dave Matthews Band, then folding into an electro-reggae groove -- building into a track that ends in a similarly almost-cluttered-yet just right instrumental blend.

The disc closes out with flair with an opening lyric that neatly brings the "wild and free" theme of the whole disc full circle: "I wrote a letter to my generation just to say / you don't get a second chance to make the same mistakes / that break our bones." Plenty of bands have done the "Young, restless, wild and looking to live life to the fullest with eyes wide open" trope. Youngblood Hawke do it with wide-eyed, hungry-young artist flair, to be certain. They have some rough edges to smooth out, but they have a very promising start here (this writer was fortunate enough to see them as an opening act for Keane in January 2013, and the same energy was manifest in their performance.) If further albums show progression and evolution into a style that they make more uniquely theirs, the only way to go from here is up.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.