Album Review: HAWK – She Knows EP

By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

The Cranberries, starring frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan, were a fairly successful Irish band during their peak, even though their protest song ‘Zombie’ undeniably accounted for the majority of their success. However, that was the mid-Nineties and since then, the burgeoning breed of female fronted alt-rock bands have continued to sprout, bringing their edgy guitar music and thoughtful lyrics to the forefront.

HAWK are one within this category that somehow seem to differ slightly in their direction, although it seems hard to believe when you see pictures of a four-piece rock band fronted by a small female with a blonde crop cut. The London-based alt-rock outfit have just released their third EP ‘She Knows’ via Veta Records. The EP presents a darker tonality in comparison to their earlier work, yet still maintains the beauty and grace that disguises their confrontational lyrical themes addressing bigotry and discrimination witnessed in every day living.

‘She Knows’ includes 5 equally expressive songs, each with its own personality, glued together by dreamlike soundscapes. The EP opener and aptly titled ‘Intro’ drops us right in the centre of HAWK’s power. Deep pulsating drones, lightly layered with ethereal vocal samples and haunting violins gradually build before an immense wall of sound crashes down onto us following the frail strum of guitar chords. ‘Intro’ seamlsessly bleeds into track two, ‘Take It Away’, which conveys similar message to that of Alice in Wonderland. The lyrics to the chorus “I need to sleep in the dark, before you take it away” suggests a feeling of paranoia, but with an added aspect of fear indicated by the heavily crunchy guitar chords.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKhfWhdVF5A[/youtube]

As the EP pushes on into tracks 3 and 4 ‘Static’ and ‘Mirror Maze’, we experience a new burst of life from HAWK. The drums become more driven, the guitars drop into the background and support the top line, and Hough’s vocal approach becomes a lot more melodic, opening up her range and developing her projection. ‘Static’, for example, is based on two melodic phrases, one on each guitar and vocals that repeats and develops as the song progresses. Without any clear indication to the change in sections, the listener is kept intrigued as the guitar and voice share these melodies, creating an enticing blend of the two. ‘Mirror Maze’ takes a much more direct approach in that every aspect of the music has a clearly defined part that excellently accompanies each other perfectly, yet are equally as strong in isolation.

EP closer ‘Ghost’ is an excellent example of the power behind Julie Hough’s voice. Matthew Harris’ guitar parts also take somewhat of a lead role, hinting at the subsequent vocal melody, which only enters intentionally after the 1-minute mark. Hough’s vocal phrases throughout the verse are light and short. However, it isn’t the melody that engages the most, it’s the climax point in ‘Ghost’ each time the chorus breaks that pulls you in. Each time, we are hit with a wall of sound similar to that experienced in ‘Intro’, except with a much more progressive guitar riff, and a more solid, steady groove. Hough’s celestial yet visceral vocals pierce through the wall of sound with the perfect amount of vibrato and attitude that send shivers down your spine. Just one note over the top of the whole band acts perfectly as the cement of the sound whilst equally sharing the role of a top line with the guitar.

Within this short surreal journey of just 5 songs, HAWK provide an excellent blend of dark, melodic rock with elements of dream pop. They create a sound so heavy and visceral, yet simultaneously so light and enchanting that makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds while watching the apocalypse unravel underfoot.

8/10

HAWK’s new EP ‘She Knows’ is out now on Veta Records. Catch them during their short Irish tour, which you can find the dates for here.

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