Hamish Hawk - Angel Numbers (Post Electric) 2
Credit: Gabriela Silveira

Hamish Hawk – Angel Numbers (Post Electric)

“Angel Numbers: a series of recurring numerical patterns or sequences which those who believe in such things invest with cosmic significance.” 

Edinburgh’s Hamish Hawk follows up his 2021 album Heavy Elevator with Angel Numbers set for release on 3 February via Post Electric. It’s difficult to know where to start with Hamish Hawk, such is the ability of this wordsmith to create an image in one’s mind through his turn of phrase. Since connecting with Rod Jones (of Idlewild) he has transformed his music. Lead single from Heavy ElevatorCaterpillar‘ immediately captured attention and made the 6Music playlist. And so to Angel Numbers, again produced by Rod at his Post Electric Studios in Edinburgh. Most of the songs were written during the pandemic and incredibly recorded over a two week period.

The album opens with the lyrics “I haven’t the foggiest, faintest idea” from the first track ‘Once Upon an Acid Glance‘. It transpires this is simply not the case on Angel Numbers with its variety and breadth of inspiration, and even collaboration. This first song includes every instrument used on the album, such a detail should come as no surprise. The soundscape is spine-tingling and the lyrics are full of imagery. Just listen to those references to Leonard Cohen, Karen Carpenter, David Hockney, Dylan Thomas and Britt Ekland.

Previous single ‘Think Of Us Kissing‘ picks up the pace, and that guitar riff is matched by Hamish’s strong crystal clear vocal. “Where’s my big like?” are the first lyrics, possibly referring to social media and our need for validation. Full of passion, the vocal layers beautifully over the instrumentation. The lyrics suggest a struggle to find and follow one’s own path:
The future is a factory
And I foresee it hating me
The brutalist industry I’ve seen
Not my scene

Hamish incorporates a variety of characters on this album and on ‘Elvis Lookalike Shadows’, we are granted a visitation from Presley in his ’68 Comeback Special splendour: “I saw the risen king, sitting in a boxing ring” while ‘Bridget St. John’ is a gentle travelogue creating scenes including from a rooftop in Berlin to a book store in Lansing to Dresden in a big square. The arrangement here is just glorious, with strings adding the texture.

Angel Numbers contains two tracks which are collaborations. ‘Frontman‘ opens with Anna B. Savage‘s stunning vocal, beneath a thick harmonium swirl. It’s a soaring beautiful track, and the combined harmony is breath-taking. ‘Frontman’ is a track to wallow in the soundscape, the slow fadeout gently releasing you from its grasp. On ‘Rest & Veneers’, Hamish trades gently barbed lines with American singer-songwriter Samantha Crain. With the twang of the guitars this track has an alt-country vibe.

Desperately’ is a highlight, if a bit of a shock after the graceful ‘Frontman’. It seems to burst into life, a celebration if you will. The keen listener may pick up that “Angel” is mentioned throughout Angel Numbers, a thread that seems to weave through the whole album. ‘Desperately’ has a sharp post-punk edge, and is it a love song? Perhaps.
“I’m no Gala, you’re no Dali”
The vocal is utterly thrilling here, and the stretched reverb at the end a perfect tetchy close to the song.

Bill‘ is best explained by Hamish himself as it is based on a recollection of the night he was visited in a dream by Bill Callahan:
“I was in a room in a paper house, a few floors up, and it was full of undulating sand. I was in the middle of the room sitting in front of the board game Go. Bill Callahan was standing in the corner on raised sand with a big stick, and he said, “When you hate the song, come and find me / When you’ve spent too long staring at ‘Money’.”

And that refers to staring at the lyrics to my song ‘Money’. It ended up being this sort of mantra, where I would look back on this dream where I met Bill Callahan where he said, ‘Don’t keep staring at ‘Money’’. In other words: Don’t fixate on things you have done that you think are good. Just keep going.”

Title track ‘Angel Numbers’ is stirring, quirky and anthemic. It questions our ambivalent relationships with life’s traditional staging posts. Aren’t there more important considerations in life than the attaining of a mortgage? The lyrics are thought-provoking and questioning of priorities, but delivered in an uplifting song full of emotion.
“What of the suicides?
What of the childless brides?
What of the undecided sons?
The ties that bind the times they tried,
Well, all the dusting gets done”

Money‘ follows with an indie-pop exploration of that commodity we cannot live without, but once earned what do you spend it on? “Who buys a jacket from a gunmaker?” possibly one of my favourite lines. Hamish points out the absurd in his observational lyrics.

And then what a surprise with ‘Dog-eared August‘, another highlight of Angel Numbers. It opens with a techno beat, and maintains the club vibe throughout. The spark of electricity weaving in and out is thrilling and the static of a reverbing guitar towards the end a wicked closure. Again the lyrics are striking, including lines such as:
“You’ve a body like you’ll ruin me.”
“Would you look at that? I’m on my knees already. How embarrassing for you.”
“The more I resist, the more you exist.”

Hamish expands on his lyrics:
“I’ve never worried about what kind of music we’re making, and I think that shows in some of the instrumentation and the differences between the songs. The unifying thing is my lyrics and that world. You’re on a ride. Sometimes there will be a bend, sometimes you will slow down to 20mph, other times it will speed up. It’s a journey, and I’m not worried about it not being cohesive. I don’t mind people making comparisons between certain aspects of the music and other people, but the closer you look, there is less of them than you might think there are. If I end up sounding like me, I think that’s good.”

Grey Seals’ closes out the album, an atmospheric and expansive track full of emotive power and a fitting end to Angel Numbers. Hamish Hawk has produced an album full of the peaks and troughs of the human spirit, full of various sonic landscapes and yet connected by angels throughout. Its an evolution on from Heavy Elevator, and demonstrates the versatility, creativity, imagination and sheer talent of its creator.

thumbnail image003
Credit: Hamish Hawk

Hamish Hawk’s new album Angel Numbers is set for release on 3 February.
Please click here for order details and for full tour details.
For more information on Hamish please check out his facebook and twitter.

Reader Rating1 Votes

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.