Review: Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences – Apologies To The Enlightenment

Paul Hawkins was a former member of the “antifolk” movement who has now joined up with ex-Death In Vegas member Ian Button to convert his acoustic songs into a menacing, grimy pop racket. It certainly takes some gall to begin your album with a whispered version of the Lord’s Prayer and fill in time with tributes to ski-jumping eccentric Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. Hawkins definitely has spirit.

For a limited vocal range, Hawkins makes a little go a long way too. His bitterness is conveyed by a rasp of a voice which spits out stream of consciousness words with barely pause for breath. That said, his trusty backing band perform a grand job of making his uncompromising material sound rather mor palatable.

 ‘I’m In Love With A Hospital Receptionist’ may appear awkward but its jangly melody and shuffling rhythms make it a great alternative pop song whilst ‘Seven Inches Tall’ revolves around an addictive rolling piano hook. ‘I’ve Had My Fun’, on the other hand, is an incredibly intense track where the pace gets faster and faster and it contrasts nicely with ‘The Yellow Castle On The Hill’; a song which displays a lightness of touch and an overwhelming sense of sadness as a mental patient prepares for release. Finally, ‘You’re Never Gonna Leave Behind The Freakshow’ is the closest the group get to The Fall, the most obvious soundalikes.

‘Apologies To The Enlightenment’ is a sprawling, angst-filled record yet – for the most part – the seventy-plus minutes of music here is riveting. Credit must go equally to Hawkins’ no holds barred, acerbic delivery and the unsettling but hook-filled arrangements which support him.

Web Sites:
Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences Official Site
Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences MySpace

Further Listening:
The Fall

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