EP Review: Hawk Eyes

Hawk Eyes - That's What This IsEP Review: Hawk Eyes
Album: That’s What This Is
Label: Self

Since adopting a new moniker, Hawk Eyes have gone from strength to strength. Festival-goers across Europe have been treated to their acerbic blend of chaos and melody off the back of 2012’s explosive Ideas. Now, as a precursor to a third album, the band offers up another tasty morsel of crunching guitars and wild-eyed vocals.

With four tracks and a 15 minute run time, That’s What This Is is a sojourn with the Leeds boys as they continue to prove that – like a magician’s sleeve – the magic just keeps on coming. What’s clear throughout is how razor-sharp Hawk Eyes’ sound has become. The title track is hurled into life with a crack of Steve Wilson’s snare, and almost immediately lurches into a wonky guitar line that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the previous album. A frolicking chorus is clearly designed to get people jumping within seconds of hearing it, and the brief breakdown shows that this is a band who are a dab hand at knowing what will get a crowd going.

‘Never Never, Not Now’ puts vocalist Paul Astick front-and-centre, as its verses almost seem in a dizzy rush to get to a pleading chorus, which itself is just an appetiser for a conclusion that – with its low-down-and-dirty electronic fuzz – harks back to Muse before they started writing songs for your mother.

That same bassy tone rumbles throughout the angrier ‘Cheap’, where Astick gets the chance to show off his remarkable vocal variation, switching from a clean croon to a yowl full of disgrace and regrets. ‘More Than A Million’ wraps the EP up in succinct fashion, throwing driven guitar riffs together with Astick’s story-telling performance, all winding up to a hotpot of messy noise and a strangled guitar solo that ends as almost as quickly as it begins.

What’s possibly of more interest than the EP itself is how it came into fruition. Scepticism surrounding ventures like PledgeMusic and KickStarter is understandable, but this successful project marks it out as a genuine avenue for bands that are never going to hit the same commercial peaks as the aforementioned Muse. ‘That’s What This Is’ is a gift for the fans – who probably number in their thousands at best – who are willing Hawk Eyes to succeed, and are happy to bankroll their creative flourishes. This can only be a good thing, and one hopes we’ll see a few more success stories in the near future.

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