The tinny speakers of my Apple Macbook don’t seem to suffice when listening to the music of Hawksley Workman.
I knew that in order to appreciate this album fully I would have to risk deafness whilst listening to it, so into my car stereo the CD went and suddenly the oomph is back.
The entire sound of the music jumps erratically from piano driven melancholia of opener Song for Sarah Jane to lo-fi electric guitar driven shoegazey grunge of French Girl in LA and And The Government Will Protect the Mighty.
The crashing sound of the drums and crunching chords of the electric guitar to me don’t result in the rawness that appears to be Workman’s goal, but sounds messy and disorganised - and not in an experimental way.
The songs seem to settle for a simple idea repeated over and over rather than progressing into soaring melodies and working towards a climax.
The album lacks consistency; I’m not sure if I’m listening to a soulful singer-songwriter wallowing in dark self-pity or a kooky contemporary glam-rock musician having fun in the studio. The tracks that fall under the former category are certainly my most preferable.
Elements of shoegaze and trip-hop come and go making this album not the kind one can comfortably swallow in one gulp as it jumps from genre to genre.
However, if every track were as good as You Don’t Just Want to Break Me (You Want to Tear Me Apart), this would be an outstanding album. The Massive Attack style of electronic beat in accompaniment with sorrowful break-up lyrics sung with husky, soulful vocals make for a good execution.
It’s a shame this album can’t seem to make up its mind as to what it is, because for all the styles of music included on the album, Hawksley Workman excels in each and every one.