Hazel English - Wake Up! LP (Ltd Ed. Red Vinyl)
Since debuting with bittersweet single ‘Never Going Home’ in 2016, the Sydney-born artist has felt the urge to connect with her listeners in a meaningful way. Blending wistful, candid lyricism with jangling psych and beach-pop sounds, English’s compelling songwriting has earned her over 25 million streams, airplay on BBC Radio 1, 6Music and Beats, praise from Lauren Laverne and Annie Mac, and press acclaim with double EP Just Give In/Never Going Home labelled by The 405 as “one of the strongest records of the year”. 2019 saw her gain an even wider audience after touring with Lord Huron and Death Cab For Cutie.
Where the double EP was very much a lo-fi, bedroom-produced record, English left her home setup behind in favour of roomy recording studios and tapped up session players for her debut album. Bigger, lusher, and more live-sounding, the LP shows a new side to English: one that conveys the joy and excitement of collaboration. Drawing from a more grandiose sonic palette while pulling on the same sun-kissed thread of her previous work, half of the record was made in LA with super-producer Justin Raisen (Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX, Angel Olsen), while English flew to Atlanta to work with Ben H. Allen (Deerhunter, M.I.A, Animal Collective) on the other half.
Listening to the record, it should come as no surprise that ‘Revolver’-era Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas, The Zombies and Jefferson Airplane were all at the forefront of her mind while recording. “Radical messages need a raw and vibrant backdrop to pop,” she says, and she’s kept her trademark sunshine-filled sound that fits her Los Angeles dwelling, but with bigger, stirring choruses. It's a testament to English’s writing style and ear for a hook that she won’t make anything that she couldn’t play stripped back to its bones, refusing to rely on production to carry a song. Standouts like the infectious ‘Off My Mind’ and ‘Like A Drug’, with its swirling hypnosis, find English’s songcraft at its most accomplished.