H. Hawkline

In the Pink of Condition

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Welsh singer/songwriter H. Hawkline spent a few years working below the radar before the release of 2015's In the Pink of Condition on Heavenly, refining his neo-psych rambling and tricky Welsh songwriting into a sleek and punchy mix of hooky guitar pop, woozy acid folk, and jangling indie pop. Helped by the guiding hand of fellow traveler Cate Le Bon behind the mixing board, Hawkline delivers on the promise of earlier efforts and the album nearly equals the work of his producer. Utilizing a gnarly guitar tone that threatens to reach out of the speakers and strangle the listener, Hawkline's sleepy, woodsy vocals, and the kind of intimate songs that sound like they're being played for one person at a time, the album has a timeless sound that's both deeply mysterious and instantly immediate. Le Bon's production work is spot-on, keeping things simple but never simplistic, and the occasional backing vocals she chips in help provide the album with some spooky warmth. The overall result is very similar to the work of their countrymen Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, especially their wonderful How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart record. Songs like "Rainy Summer" and "Moons in My Mirrors" would have fit in there perfectly, with their gentle psychedelic swirls that feed the listener plenty of color but never get in the way of the feels the melodies and vocals transmit. A couple songs break out of the moody restraints and kick up some dust; with energy and fire, "Ringfinger" and "Moddion" are welcome visitors that help round the album out. In the Pink of Condition is the work of an artist fully in control of his sound and vision, and Hawkline delivers exactly the album anyone who's been following him wanted. It's also a nice surprise for anyone discovering him here for the first time, as he firmly adds himself to the shortlist of people (Le Bon included) who are making the best folk-pop-psych around in the 2010s.

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