This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: People who prefer art to be more “different” than straightforward, and alternative/indie fans.
Album: Wake Up
Artist: Youngblood Hawke
Genre: alternative, indie, rock
Music Rating: 8/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: Atlas Genius, The Colourist, Walk the Moon
One Sentence Summary: This album is an epic composite of beautiful strangeness and toe-tapping eccentricity.
Best thing About this Album: It challenges your brain to think in new and different ways while entertaining you with catchy melodies.
One thing I wish was different: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not partial towards children’s choirs in music intended for adults. I understand the idea behind it conceptually and its emotional intention. I’m just not particularly fond of its actualization.
Website: Youngblood Hawke
(Red text indicates lyrics to be aware of for parental guidance. Things indicated therein are not necessarily bad, but will help indicate age appropriateness and help parents make personal decisions for media exposure tailored to their children. More than just reasons to not let children listen to this music, I also see some of these as talking points for parents and children to discuss, teach, learn, and understand.)
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
The album begins by punching you in the face with music (in the form of a sneaky, groovy bass, a fuzzy electric guitar and a persistent kick) in a beautiful anthem of the confusion of a lost soul.
Can’t not talk about: I totes relate to the imagery of this song, as I was constantly on the move growing up. There was never a geographical place that I could point to on a map and call “home”. It was a great experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it does give a powerful frame for the emotional confusion of finding groundedness. (That bass though!)
2. We Come Running*
In one of the coolest music videos of ever, we get to hear perhaps the most well-known Youngblood Hawke song which centers around the certainty of believing in chasing down your dreams and is a beautiful juxtaposition of its predecessor.
Can’t not talk about: The giant clock/chime is wonderfully prominent in the chorus, and I just: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (in a good way!) Ding-dong! Hello, Destiny here. Let’s party! But also, why the children on the track at the end? Idk. Seemed a bit unnecessary. Like, are we Kidz Bop now? I get that we’re celebrating the childlike innocence of following our dreams. Cool. Fine. Wasn’t the beginning and middle of the track enough? Must you close it out that way? Ugh. I verily hate continuity sometimes. 😉 It was great when the vocals were mixed, but at 3:49 they jumped the shark (see what I did there?) and went full “Straight Outta Preschool”. Sigh. It’s conceptually great. I’ll give them that.
Be still my Apache heart! I’m not going to even attempt describing the music to save my head from exploding, but it’s weird and wonderful and amazing. Just listen.
Can’t not talk about: Okay, I loved this song, but I totally did not get it’s intended meaning when I first heard it. Like, at all. I had a whole different story in my head. Also, oh my xylophone! So. Much. Love. (P.S. “Oh my xylophone!” is now my new favorite interjection. Be warned.)
Obvious allusions to Irish ballads aside, the music is giving me some “Pumped Up Kicks” vibes with a touch of reggae and a healthy dose of heartbreak with a window of hope.
Can’t not talk about: Warning: listening to this commentary will add depth and meaning to the song, but also might break your heart.
5. Stars (Hold On)* (contains the phrase “it’s a hell of a ride”)
Electronic music does a beautiful mimicry of symphonic as the lyrics paint a gorgeous anthem of hope that is in no way saccharine or insincere.
Can’t not talk about: I’ve been so caught up in talking about all the things, that I’ve neglected to mention the theme of “smoke” and how its appearance and imagery is woven throughout this album (starting in track #1) to further the overall narrative. BUT WHY WITH THE CHILD VOCALS AGAIN??? Apparently only children follow their dreams. I just found out. Darn you, continuity! A two-edged sword here. For realsies.
How you make a chill groove from a show-stopping, thundering heartbeat of a kick I’ll never know, but the feat is accomplished as the song is introduced with electronic instrumentation and an amazing bass that lays the undercurrent for equally impressive vocals that are just fun and uplifting.
Can’t not talk about: That chorus though! Melody on point! And harmonies: what!? 😍
7. Sleepless Streets
Nope. I can’t. Too much. Magical blues influence. Exploration. Alice harmonizes a lot. I’m done.
Can’t not talk about: What the rhythm, y’all. I can’t even with the unceasing creativity going against the grain. Those claps are sick, yo. Also, I heard some prominent acoustic guitar for the first time. HORNS!? Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Horns. Yes. They sound like synth trumpets, but idk and idcare. WAS THERE AN OCCASIONAL SECRET TUBA HIDDEN IN WITH THE BASS TOO??? Oh, also the acoustic piano was a nice touch. Whatever. I’m done.
8. Say Say (contains the phrase “caught up in the whiskey wind”)
A highly modified electronic synth along with some acoustic-ish piano and truly epic percussion jump straight into the chorus before moving onto some 80’s-inspired verses and returning to an epic anthem of unity.
Can’t not talk about: So much singability. So much danceability. So much epic. “A beacon in the night will take those black waves and turn them blue.” So much love.
9. Blackbeak (contains the phrase “grapes dripping blood along skinny vines, skeletons we leave behind”)
What starts out as a dated guitar intro quickly spirals into an epic classic that cannot help but make you think deeply and sing along with all of your whole heart and body. (Okay, maybe it’s just me.)
Can’t not talk about: Too much heartfeels. Too many brainthoughts. Everything in me just wants to sing this all the days.
10. Forever (Contains the phrases “sang drunk” and “who the hell”. Additionally it says “smokestacks and chimneys billow from my chest, breaking into the house just to see what’s left”, which could be construed to be speaking about smoking and/or illegal activities) <– In case you were wondering, that is NOT my interpretation. At all. Just giving heads up.
Acoustic guitar comes back into the spotlight (accompanied by a healthy dose of electronics) in a folky-synth groove that celebrates self-discovery and living in the moment.
Can’t not talk about: Are they trolling us with Doctor Who references, because this is like at least the third one? Speaking of continuity, I am loving the “Comanche spirit” juxtaposed against the “Apache heart”. Also perpetuated: smoke. For real though, that synth lead that comes to prominence at around 2:28 is sick.
11. Live & Die (contains the phrase “gonna steal our fame”)
Heavy and complex rhythms of percussion lay a foundation as ethereal vocals add nuance and texture to what feels like an intricate dance-battle that is fleshed out with amazingly technical lyrics and a lot of heart.
Can’t not talk about: The passion and heart in this is just inspiring. I truly believe that they live and die for their art. “Gonna reach up higher. Gonna feel the flames. Live & die along the way.”
12. Last Time (contains the phrases “mistakes that break our bones” and “there’s a place between the trenches when the bullets fly”)
The musical scale of epic proportions is on par with the lyrical pondering of the last message you want to leave at the end of the world.
Can’t not talk about: “I wrote a letter to my generation just to say, You don’t get a second chance to make the same mistakes.”<– Yeah you did. Also, how did you give the effect of howling wind without being annoying and upsetting the rest of the music? Good job!
Conclusion: If you are looking for something eccentric, epic, enlightening, emotive, and entertaining, I’ve got just the thing for you.
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles
Click here to read through Youngblood Hawke lyrics (including all the songs from this album).