The Awkward Silences’ new album is the epitome of the calmness of sound that inspires your inner musician accompanied by the energetic, vibrant nature of its artists.
A band led by songwriter, disability campaigner and author Paul Hawkins, The Awkward Silences combine cleverly off-kilter Daniel Johnston-esque pop songs with energetic and inspired live performances pitched somewhere between Ian Dury, Iggy Pop and the Flaming Lips. The Awkward Silences have been a dedicated band in the UK Antifolk scene since the late 00s!
Now, getting into more detail about the album, the intro of the third song on the album ‘There’s Nothing More Obnoxious Than a Self-Made Man’ takes me back to the unravelling music of the Pixies. Even though they are bands of different genres they are similar when it comes to resonance and ‘drilling’ a message in one’s mind. The song is filled with the obscure and ambiguous qualities of success driven by hardships, distrust and inequality. A statement on the discrepancies and hypocrisy of those who claim status and accomplishments with a lack of gratitude.
The previous statement reinforces the meaning of the following message of ‘(Everybody Loves) A Bit of Organised Fun’ resonating once and once again. To me it symbolises that one simultaneous fun moment that very soul craves for. “And as the music fades away there is nothing left to say, just thank everybody let them know that you’re glad that you’ve come!” This precise quote takes me back to the endless parties and never-ending nights drowning, sometimes swimming in meaningless words of praise and love to people who you do not even really know. Perhaps it is the track that is the most relatable to the audience. The constant repetitions flood the ears and senses creating a symbiotic experience; artist to listener and vice versa.
This album represents concisely the activist backgrounds of the artists and the issues which yet again they portray with satirical humour. It truly captures much more than an individual’s life complications, a series of emerging stories throughout the song collection to which many others can relate. I feel as though sometimes as a society we fail to listen to the words of many creators but in this case the truths are inescapable. This is to lead more focus as more recently, Hawkins has been in the music press for his work on disability campaigns: Attitude Is Everything and Beyond The Music aimed at improving employment opportunities for disabled people in the music industry. As a disabled musician himself, Hawkins is passionate about improving access for deaf and disabled performers, gig-goers and professionals. The Awkward Silences also provide captioned lyrics for those who cannot hear them. Ultimately, as an album after years of silence it is their catchiest, most unusual and most personal work to date. I still hear Paul’s voice in my head!
The Awkard Silences is out now via Blang Records.
Review by Hind El Bouaissaoui