The Australian-born, LA-based musician made an almost perfect introduction with a series of heavy-hitting singles culminating in a double-whammy of EP releases in the form of Just Give In/Never Going Home back in 2017. It was the sound of a young musician with an innate ear for melody and an eye for something bigger than the venues she was playing. Aurally, it was deliriously old-school dream-pop that slinked and fizzed.
Wake UP! replaces the grainy lo-fi production for something a whole lot brighter, direct and immediate. English certainly hasn’t lost that melodic ear, and the album explodes in colour with a real uncomplicated pop sensibility. It was a record largely conceived while listening to The Mamas & The Papas, Jefferson Airplane and Revolver era Beatles. Dizzyingly bright, Wake UP! is a punchy record that arrows straight for the jugular.
As a sufferer of acute anxiety, English wrote these songs following something of an existential crisis. Stuck and isolated, she felt as though her life was becoming a series of mundane objectives, to which we could all, perhaps, relate. She questioned her own motives, “am I happy? Do I like the direction I’m going? Am I engaged with my community? Do I feel connected to others?” The answers were an emphatic collection of “No” response, and so the album’s title became a sort of personal mantra, “a reminder to wake up and be present in a time where we are used to switching off and looking for constant entertainment.
Obsessing over old movies and vintage clothing since the age of fifteen, English purports to take her cues from surrealism, Dadaism and the writings of sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick. She wrote words before she became a musician – before a student exchange programme triggered her San Francisco move, English was studying creative writing in Melbourne and writing poetry prolifically. After reading Guy Debord’s 1967 book The Society Of The Spectacle, English pondered our obsession with self-image. In the book, Debord considers how we get caught up in the ‘spectacle’. English draws parallels from the 1960s text with the social media heavy world of the past few years, and ultimately how it can make us feel so unhappy.
Confronting issues with capitalism, Wake UP! also explores power struggles, looking at how shifting dynamics affect relationships, be it in the music industry or in romantic life. The record dives into the unbalance in those relationships, be it those very one-sided relationships where all the heavy lifting and emotion goes unreciprocated, or feeling the need for space to seek one’s own power.
It’s a multi-faceted, multi-layered record, and kissed by English’s own unique poetic verse.For tour dates and more visit: hazelenglishmusic.com/