Hamish Hawk’s second full length follows sharply on the success and acclaim of 2021’s ‘Heavy Elevator’. While that album was a sharpening polish on the best of what he’d come up with so far, ‘Angel Numbers’ feels more cohesive and assured, comfortable in quiet spaces and mood.
But still, Hawk’s calling card – his literate, baritone ramblings that recall Morrissey and Scott Walker, as well as modern revivalists like Editors and White Lies – is front and centre, and the surreal is mixed liberally with the poignant. The title track and ‘Think of Us Kissing’ have an anthemic, bombastic quality destined for more discerning radio playlists. Both have a more full-band approach than most of the album, with the lick coursing through ‘Angel Numbers’ the only thing you could call coruscating in the Hawk oeuvre.
However, he’s at his best when in contemplative mode, like on the lilting, countrified ‘Rest and Veneers’ (a bit of pedal steel goes a long way) or the wistful ‘Bridget St. John’. The latter has an imagistic feel, conjuring snapshots of international adventures with sighing strings and backing vocals.
Opening track ‘Once Upon an Acid Glance’ is reminiscent of the best Jens Lekman. It’s a little overstuffed when it comes to stylish pop culture references, but Hawk’s endearing delivery makes it work, along with the warm keys and orchestral flourishes. ‘Frontman’ is an excellent duet with another rising star, Anna B. Savage. The spare accordion harks back to guitarist Andrew Pearson’s former life as frontman of the Riflebirds (the pair crossed paths while at the University of St Andrews) – his 2013 release ‘There’ll Be Flowers Come The Spring’ is worth digging out.
Overall, such an easy way with words combined with breezy rhythms (and occasional balladeering) means that Hawk’s star is sure to continue its ascent. At the very least, it’s another SAY Award nomination.
‘Angel Numbers’ is out on Post Electric on February 3rd.