If this is your first time here, you might not know that we like Hawk Eyes (née Chickenhawk) quite a bit around these parts. Well, we do, so there you have it. I personally loved Modern Bodies and the Mindhammers EP so much that waiting for Ideas has been a bit of a bind – scrabbling around for the tiniest scraps of information, rummaging through band-members’ bins, being extra-specially nice to their PR guys, that sort of thing really wears on a bloke after a while. Everyone can call off their private security firms as it’s here now and I am going to tell you about it, oh yes I am.
There are a couple of new things about this release to get out of the way. Firstly, they’re no longer with Brew Records, having signed to Fierce Panda. Secondly, and far more interestingly, despite their shiny new label, the band are using the PledgeMusic service to release this – following the success of earthtone9, InMe and erstwhile tourmate Ginger at getting projects independently funded by their fans, Hawk Eyes and Fierce Panda are using PledgeMusic for the preorders of Ideas and some exclusive merchandise. At the time of writing, their Pledge total was already standing at 139% with a month to go until the album actually releases – people power in action! I’ll be asking the band more about this decision and the reasons behind it in an upcoming interview for OneMetal.
ANYWAY. The album. The reason both you and I are actually here. Yes. If, like me, you had a niggling concern placed by the last EP that the over-caffeinated frantic side of Hawk Eyes may have buggered off never to return, then Ideas should ease your mind (if not your ears). Some of that twitchiness HAS gone, seemingly for ever, but this album sees a more even mix of the darker, more considered Mindhammers material and the lurching bug-eyed madness of Modern Bodies – no bad thing in my book.
The main thing that drew me to the band initially was their strong sense of melody even through all the squalling guitar noise and screamed vocals, and this side of Hawk Eyes is rammed directly to the fore here. As the band have matured, as has their sound, and their ability to seemingly shit huge riffs and vocal melodies has gone from ‘remarkable’ to ‘practically untouchable’. You see, what most bands working at the heavier end of music seem to forget to do is actually write songs to go with all the chestbeating. There’s no such problem with Hawk Eyes – there’s plenty for the headbangers among you to be shaking your fringes to, but without ever compromising the art of songwriting. These songs breathe and shift around, anchored by one of the most solid rhythm sections in British rock music today courtesy of Ryan Clark (bass) and Matt Reid (drums), and some of the most enormous vocal hooks you’ll hear this side of the charts. Literally every single track on Ideas is crammed with riffs, basslines, verses, choruses and lyrics other bands would do awful, terrible things for even so much as a sniff of – Paul Astick’s vocals have never been stronger either, striking a pretty much perfect balance of melody and aggression throughout.
It’s really up to you whether you get hold of this or not, all I can do is tell you what I reckon. In this case, I reckon if you DON’T snare a copy of Ideas you’re utterly, completely mental. If the thought of eleven top-quality songs by one of the country’s best rock bands doesn’t excite you, then I don’t really know what else to suggest you do with your time and money.