Reviewed: September 2020
Released: 2020, The Sign Records
Reviewer: Lisa Nash
The Hawkins started out in a small Swedish town back in 2013, building their reputation on live gigs and e.p’s culminating in a huge chance to tour Russia in 2016. Mixing elements of rock, pop, punk and glam, they have come up with a catchy set of songs that have a sense of fun about them that disguises a darker side. Sounding so much like The Darkness, you will be checking to see if The Hawkins is the Hawkins brothers; the band are made up of Johannes Carlsson (Guitars/Lead vocals), Mikael Thunborg (Guitars/Backing vocals), Martin Larsson (Bass/Backing vocals) and Albin Grill (Drums/Backing vocals). They say the name has nothing to do with The Darkness though, it seems it came from meeting a shaman on a drunken night out, who told them it was their destiny.
The band deliver strong rock songs, which indicate that their live shows are highly entertaining, high energy and with solid musicianship. The lyrics might focus on deeper subjects but the jovial way in which it is presented prevents it ever becoming morbid or melancholy. Their first album, ‘Ain’t Rock N Roll’ was released in 2017 by Gain/Sony Music, but it was the single ‘Fuck You All I’m Outta Here’ that caught the notice of the Swedish rock scene through it’s anti-fascist message. In 2018 they toured Europe with ‘Corroded’, another Swedish band, and it is the live scene that they gain their reputation from. So 2020 is proving a tough time to release their new album, with no chance of touring at present. They have even embarked on their own beer, an IPA called ‘Fuck You All I’m Drinking Beer’, which is a great way to market the brand, so much so that they have a new one coming out soon called ‘Olsson Lager’.
The album was recorded in Carlsson’s own studio, he controls the process, writing the songs and teaching them to the rest of the band, while mastering was undertaken by Hans Olsson at SGS Göteborg.
The title track leads the way, ‘Silence is a Bomb’ , a short dramatic intro, very cinematic and showcasing the strong vocals of Carlsson right from the off, his range is certainly impressive. Next comes the song that the band say most represent’s what they are about: ‘Roomer’ is a frantic rock n’ roll number, which is about self understanding, and being someone else around other people, to fulfil expectations. The current single ‘Hilow’, a fuse of the words High & Low, is an emotional track about love lost and a break up, the regrets and memories that come with broken relationships.
The high energy and sometimes shrill ‘Stones’ has a strong hook and infectious melody, with a deeper meaning in its lyrics that needs further listening to. ‘Mynah’ borrows some lines from Michael Buble’s song ‘Feeling Good’, the Mynah being known for its ability to copy, where the reality is they want to be free to be themselves, which is ironic considering how much like someone else they are. Another shorter track, ‘Minuette’ takes a real battering from the drums, somewhat frenetic in style, but also quirky.
‘Cut Moon Bleeds’ also pays homage to a well known track, see if you can recognise it, brash but also puzzling and intriguing too. A rabble rousing, rebellious anthem, ‘Libertine’ is fresh and vibrant, with punchy drum beats and a distinctive message. ‘Stranger in the Next Room’ is about personal growth, not recognising the person you used to be, and looking ahead to who you are to become, so just accept the person who is present.
One of the most disturbing tracks on the album, ‘Black Gold’ has a camp-fire feel to the music, quite a knees-up but with such dark lyrics, that are such a contrast. A bit like doing the conga in a funeral parlour. Almost hymn-like, a soulful and more atmospheric track, ‘Fisherman Blues’ still has elements of heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums, but drops to far gentler moments that show great versatility from the band. The idea of linking the way fame and the music business builds you up and pulls you down to the hooks used by a fisherman is quite poetic. The last of the album is the bizarre ‘All My Birds Are Dead’; the music style is triumphant and joyous, but the lyric is quite the opposite, and singular in its message, it is both mad and epic at the same time.
This is a solid enough album, the songs are memorable and entertaining, but no matter how hard you try, you won’t get away from how much this sounds like The Darkness, such that it detracts from the quality of the music. Carlsson has an amazing range and vocal ability, the problem is they will also be measured against what has come before. What they need to do, perhaps, is avoid a name that cements the link even further, as it ends up making it seem like they are a tribute rather than allowing people to appreciate them for who they are in their own right.