Album Review: A Dream to Hold on to | Hawks Do Not Share
It only took about 20 seconds into ‘Astoria’ for me to decide to spend time on the sophomore LP ‘A Dream to Hold on to’ by Portland-based Hawks Do Not Share. And it was more than worth it for I discovered a new band to follow and look forward to new material. With headphones on, let’s get right into it!
‘Astoria’ instantly sent me back to the Hopes & Fears era of Keane, opening with the sound of rain followed by emotionally-loaded keys and soothing, healing vocals. ‘Astoria’ is a pill for sadness, the perfect background for a rainy day, though it could easily break you if played at your most vulnerable moment. The snare echoing throughout the track actually makes you feel that time has stopped or somehow got slowed down. Beautifully haunting. An easy choice for a funeral song. Not me being goth!
Now, a chaos of melodies, bells, synths, beats, guitar, all at once, combine into this sensual mix called ‘Interiors’, vividly reflecting the 80’s aesthetics. The first listen feels complicated, borderline overproduced (I dare say) but as it progresses, it all becomes clearer and more familiar in a sense. It’s obviously ‘single material’ as well as a nice challenge for the minds that enjoy breaking down songs into layers and recognizing each of them. ‘Interiors’ is super rich in that manner in contrast to ‘Midtown’, another promising single, more substractive instrumental-wise, truly addictive (‘How Do I, How Do I Let Go’ is playing on repeat in my head) and dreamy as can be. The gentle, breezy vocals here act as the wind of change that comes every time we decide to let go. ‘Midtown’ has this Moderat quality defined by the spacey synths and fast-paced minimal percussion (Moderat signature) which I personally enjoyed unexpectedly much.
‘Daybreak’ is the perfect piece to listen to during the dawn. It screams ‘new beginnings’, optimistic in its melancholy. Here we find the lyric borrowed for the album’s title ‘A Dream to Hold on to’. The abstraction and reverberating little kicks create a celestial space of peace and quite that also works as a transition leading to the second half of the album where ‘Abraxas’ brings a deeply dark energy to the table for the very first time. It’s immediately recognizable as the ‘Goth child’ of the album thanks to its dramatic chords and bass while the outstanding vocal performance is painful to say the least, like an arrow of futileness piercing through the heart as the vocalist cries out ‘I know it’s no use’. Here you’ll encounter all the heartbreak you’ve ever felt compressed into five minutes. ‘Abraxas’ goes among my personal favorite moments of this album together with ‘Midtown’.
The beat of ‘Last Light’ enters the room and my body starts moving to the rhythm on its own immediately as proof of how much it was needed at this point so thank you for that, HDNS. An ominous synth melody makes this one weirdly attention-grabbing. ‘Last Light’ feels like trying to see a face behind a mask. Pop but experimental, catchy but at the same time hard to swallow, I could talk about this track’s contradictions for hours. The techno-ish ‘Faithless’ feels like it comes straight from the 90’s-00’s, reminding a bit of Madonna’s sound in ‘Ray Of Light’. 'Drowned World' and 'Sky Fits Heaven' are a couple of spontaneous connections I made. The vocals here are just a small guest adding a human flavor to this nirvana before the music takes off like a rocket into an intergalactic orbit. 'Faithless' is pure magic. The arrangement and ethers of ‘Echoes’ have this nostalgic optimism of ‘Daybreak’ which, combined with the crying guitar, make for one of the most powerful moments until now and a deserving way to close this LP. Mysteriously, ‘Echoes’ sounds contemporary and ‘Old-school’ at the same time. It’s an ode to all that’s gone and leaves you with a bittersweet taste, like smiling in tears of pain and relief. The chilling chorus ‘Did you think you could save it, Did you believe it would last?’ earned a special place in my heart for reasons I need to discover through some self therapy.
‘A Dream To Hold On To’ was spun multiple times for me to have the full image and express myself right and even so, no words can do this body of work justice. I’m not sure when I last discovered an Indie album that feels like a 10/10 and I can bravely state that this one is. Hawks Do Not Share, after many years of work, wisely chose 8 sturdy, autonomous tracks to make a ‘catch-all’ album with no fillers - not a single track to skip. This is quality against quantity and that’s what makes it flawless to my ears. In here you’ll find both well-thought minimalism and super-rich arrangements, vocal performances filled with honest emotion and a level of production that makes you wonder how this band has not blown up yet. ‘A Dream To Hold On To’ is indeed a dreamy piece of art to keep us company when all we need is a little hope. A crack of sunlight for our darkest moments. Thank you, HDNS for this offering to the world. Cheers!
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