News / / 07.11.12




Electronic music with wimpy male vocals either grabs you by the balls and makes you go ‘oooh, ahhh’, or, alternatively, provokes the time-honoured insult of ‘bed-wetter’. James Blake, Junior Boys – these are love ‘em or hate ‘em acts. Based on Memory Tapes’ existing material – pretty and dreamy though it frequently is – Dayve Hawk had been lodged squarely in the bed-wetter box. But something has changed, and his third full-length offering – an altogether more menacing beast than his previous two – sounds more confident, more stately and crucially, less wimpy.

It’s not that anything has fundamentally altered in terms of Hawk’s vocal delivery, and melodies are still multi-tracked and swamped in reverb. But beneath the dreamy sheen, things have expanded sonically in all directions, and the overall impression is something akin to the Pet Shop Boys welded to the kaleidoscopic pop of Planet Mu’s Tropics. Opening track Neighbourhood Watch centres on a snaking, distorted synth line, sounding almost apocalyptic when placed alongside the out-and-out tweeness of some of his previous work. The standout track, Sheila, is a gorgeous slice of melancholy electronic pop. Eight epic minutes of gentle, poised goodness, it is a love song dipped in bleak, cinematic nostalgia.

Too many chillwave acts hide behind the watercolour ambiguity of the genre’s signature production style. Grace/Confusion is still a delicate and effete listen, but Hawk has stepped out from behind the smoke machine, and the result is a rewarding and absorbing album of widescreen electronic pop.


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Words: Adam Corner