Hamish Hawk: Angel Numbers

If you’re a fan of Morrissey’s chic aesthetic and refined intellectualism but sour on his anti-multiculturalism and abject betrayal of the alienated misfits his lyrics connected with during his time in the Smiths, have I got a singer for you. Hamish Hawk started releasing music in 2014 but only began creating a buzz for himself with the excellent 2021 single “The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973”, which just so happened to be StGA’s favorite song of that year. This month sees the release of the Edinburgh native’s latest studio album, Angel Numbers, and it serves as a great jumping on point for the uninitiated.

The first of the twelve songs on Angel Numbers, “Once Upon an Acid Glance”, is a perfect piece of chamber pop. After a short string section opens the track, Hawk’s voice, which has a tendency toward the stentorian, instead enters gently with lyrics relaying a story of unrequited love. Hawk’s writing here is top-notch as he draws imagery and metaphor from screaming trains and characters like Napoleon and Dylan Thomas. Angel Numbers’ first single, “Think of Us Kissing”, follows and steps on the accelerator tempo-wise, bringing us into a definite indie rock moment with driving electric guitars and a smashing chorus. The record’s first third is closed out with the glorious “Elvis Look-alike Shadows”. It’s here that Hawk’s vocals build until the song’s final moment when he lets loose with an emotive, emancipated cry.

“Bridget St. John” pulls everything back production-wise, signaling a shift into a more laid-back second third leading us into Angel Numbers’ heart. The production on the stirring, balladic duet “Frontman” is even more sparse, with the instrumental accompaniment consisting of barely more than a harmonium during the first half as singer Anna B Savage and Hawk trade verses beautifully. When the two sing together, Savage’s lilting, operatic style makes for a tender vocal pairing with Hawk’s gentle-yet-firm steadfastness. The standout track is an absolute stunner, holding the listener right up until its nebulous end. “Desperately” concludes the album’s first half, leaving off with another upbeat indie rock number.

A subtle slide guitar accompanies a gently swinging rhythm on “Bill”, the side B opener that directly precedes the album’s title track. “Angel Numbers” smartly puts Hawk’s vocals front and center as the moment is his most dynamic vocally. “Who’s game for a game of Heaven and Hell, Jesus and the Jezebel, dying daffodils and graven images?” Hawk sings boldly as he propels himself through, his voice at times soaring sublimely. “Money” is a late standout moment that harkens back to Hawk’s indie pop roots, bringing with it a bouncy beat and an irresistibly catchy chorus. “Rest & Veneers” is another duet, this time with the indie folkster Samantha Crain. Here, the slide guitar is more pronounced than on “Bill”, accentuating the song’s country feel.

“Grey Seals”, Angel Numbers’ last song is also the record’s longest. The track makes for a thoughtful, wistful ender, with Hawk’s lyrics mostly detailing naturalistic observations on a Sunday morning. Almost the entire concluding number sounds and reads like melancholic poetry, excepting one moment when we’re given definite insight into Hawk’s emotional state when he sings, “I’m a dog in need of a quiet stream.” From beginning to end, Hamish Hawk’s latest studio album paints a vivid picture of the singer and the identifiable features of his sound and personality that make him unique. All told, Angel Numbers is a winner.

Rating: 9.0/10

Listen on Apple Music

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