H. Hawkline - Black Box Domino [EP]
"H. Hawkline is the beastliest thing to emerge from Lundy Island since the 2007 Norovirus outbreak."
After reading this statement from the iconic Gryff Rhys, producer of H. Hawkline's latest release Black Box Domino, three chronological reactions will follow. First shock that he would compare a viciously contagious, excretion-inducing virus to Hawkline's pleasant folk disposition. Second, confusion that the adjective 'beastliest' would appear alongside an artist whose first two releases, A Cup of Salt and The Strange uses of Ox Gall are more bucolic sounding than beastly. Last, that upon listening to 'Black Box Domino' and after the respective states of shock and confusion, amazement that Gryff Rhys may actually be right.
The EP begins with the title track. A smooth pop song, Hawkline sings with his signature drawl meandering tastefully through the jolty pitch. His style is deceptive. Though the EP is a collection of delectable songs with sunny surfaces; it contains a dark lyrical core. The 7-minute folk-a-thon of 'Black Muck' is an example of this, "your black sunglasses/reflect my supposed crimes," he sings, followed by stomping Shangri Las style scene setting; "she chews/she chews/she chews."
For 'Broken Fingers' Hawkline departs from gentle folk for an abrasive punk edge. It gives the album a strong kick, if not sounding slightly misplaced. Hawkline quickly returns to his comfort zone with a summertime tale in 'Covered in Bats'. It's a charming song, comparable to the Mystery Jets of Making Dens, and certainly a highlight. "We're to young to run and too old to cry/so baby lets start lying": for someone who professes to hate his own voice, his deliverance of this line in the final track 'Too Young To Run' is tentative and endearing, packing just enough youthful resonance for it to relate.
Gryff Rhys is wrong, but only just. H. Hawkline isn't an explosion, rather a cautious but forthright rumble. Black Box Domino, though only a 5-song and 20 minute EP, exhibits his knack for story telling and constructing varied folk-pop music.