By Alex Cooper
Less than 18 months from the release of Hamish Hawk’s hugely successful Heavy Elevator, he returns with Angel Numbers. We find the Edinburgh based singer-songwriter off the back of a hugely successful tour, festival season, and gracing support slots for bands such as Simple Minds. Hawk’s music has beautiful instrumentation and compelling lyrics, delivered with an animated stage presence. The unique and eclectic runtime of Angel Numbers invites the listener into Hawk’s worldview – a space devoted to beauty.
Cutting his teeth both touring solo and with his band, Hawk has been pursuing music since 2014. He found praise early from artists such as King Creosote and Idlewild. At present, Hawk is in a dream position – with four singles in a row being Radio 6 Music playlisted, and national attention after ceaseless gigging. Heavy Elevator opened doors, and it’s a delight to know that Angel Numbers progresses through them.
Opener ‘Once Upon an Acid Glance’ sets the tone. ‘I haven’t got the foggiest, faintest idea’, Hawk admits. The immediate levelling of Hawk and the listener creates a wonderful intimacy, as if you’ve almost been let in on a secret. He narrates us through numerous references, dovetailing between anthemic triumph and contemplative subtlety. And sometimes on Angel Numbers, these two extremes are married.
This is demonstrated on titular single ‘Angel Numbers’. A bombastic chorus and soaring vocal questions ‘our ambivalent relationships with life’s traditional staging posts’; Hawk articulates huge themes with the grace they deserve. His music is grand and maybe with a different narrator, would be a little imposing. Yet, there is always rationality throughout the stately lyricism, and it makes for an incredibly enjoyable and accessible listen.
‘Desperately’ recalls post-punk revival sensibilities of Editors, but with captivating vocal presence reminiscent of Smiths-era Morrissey. There’s a real space for Hamish Hawk in today’s musical landscape. He looks at the world askance, but never falls into scorn. Hawk celebrates the highs and lows of life in his lyrics with equal attention, and most importantly, looks firmly ahead.
Whether it’s the Do Nothing-esque crooning delivery on ‘Money’, which champions development even in the face of success, or the stylish ‘Elvis Lookalike Shadows’, Hawk’s baritone delivery is a delight to be in the company of. Final track ‘Grey Seals’ ties up the panoramic voyage of Angel Numbers with a grounding and pensive conclusion. Traces of Echo and The Bunnymen’s ‘The Killing Moon’ or Comsat Angels’ ‘Our Secret’ can be found with post-punk disquiet all over the track. ‘Circumstances so abject, and so foolish for me to expect any less’ – backing vocals haunt Hawk’s flowing thoughts.
Angel Numbers truly considers the spectrum of human emotion and creates a very grounded listen with striking intricacy. The grandiose, rich, sonic landscape cultivated over 18 months sounds matured over years. For what Angel Numbers sets out to do, it triumphs in every way. Hamish Hawk is here to stay and will only accelerate to greater heights.
Angel Numbers is released on February 3.
Hamish Hawk plays Gorilla the same day.
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