Album Review: Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up

By on Wednesday, 5th June 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Youngblood Hawke Wake Up cover Youngblood Hawke, a sparkling, poppy quintet from Los Angeles, have released their debut album ‘Wake Up’. Through trials and tribulations that you would never guess from the perky, exuberant music, they have succeeded in making an album that has some pretty serious things to say in a package that brilliantly presents it as bright synth pop. With references to addiction, overcoming adversity and the difficult things you have to endure for your passions, the twist put on it is that there is always a redemptive quality. Sometimes it is through sheer will, but with effort, it’s never too late to make it through. I am happy to see all four of the songs from their eponymous 2012 EP make it to the album, because there wasn’t a dud in the bunch – ‘Stars (Hold On)’ is still my favourite. (You can watch the band perform a studio version of that track here.)

Youngblood Hawke open their album, like they opened their live show when I saw them last October, with ‘Rootless’. It’s the kind of pulsing groove that gets you going and is a perfect opener. They quickly flow into their single, the perfect summertime anthem, ‘We Come Running’. Fresh and bright with a chanting chorus sung by the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir, you can just see summer flowing around them. ‘Dreams’ hits a little harder with some driving synth grounding it. This is the song that probably gets them the most deserving comparison to Passion Pit. With some deeper bass underneath and Martin’s piercing falsetto, it’s a bit epic in its dealing with making choices.

‘Dannyboy’ is a track inspired by a friend of the band, Danny McGuire, who was put into a coma after being hit by a drunk driver. Its words exhort him to ‘wake up’ and enjoy the beauty of the world. Deceptively, as with many of their songs, despite its joyful sound Danny never woke up. Of the songs new to me, ‘Live and Die’ drew me in the most, a tune that tells you to go for it when you are passionate about something, “Gonna find my fortune / gonna steal our fame / gonna live and die along the way / Gonna reach up higher / gonna feel the flames / Live and die along the way”.

Earlier I had predicted that the band had grabbed hold of just the right combination of indie pop and California sunshine to make waves. Youngblood Hawke have crafted tunes that are insanely catchy and have a beat that is imminently danceable, if just the tiniest bit too similar to one another. However, all Youngblood Hawke really needs is a champion to get them played on the radio to send them shooting into the stratosphere à la Imagine Dragons.

The iTunes version of the album has a 13th track called ‘In Our Blood’ and the Spotify version has a 13th track called ‘Survival’. ‘Wake Up’ is available now on Universal Republic Records.

7.5/10

Wake Up’ is available now on Universal Republic Records in America but if you’re in the UK, you’ll have to wait until the 29th of July to nab it on Universal.

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