Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences - Apologies to the Enlightenment

Tiffany Daniels 01/04/2010

Rating: 5/5

The public don't know it yet, but Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences are clamouring for the position of best British band of the 21st Century. Currently, the troupe is massively underrated and sorely lacking in followers; Hawkin's music demands legions, nay nations of devoted fans, something that despite three albums to date, he's confusingly yet to achieve. With any luck and a nifty promoter on his side, things could be about to change with Apologies to the Enlightenment, his fourth studio album.

The release begins with “The Beast In the Upstairs Bedroom”, a rip-roaring, frantic, empowering and frightening opener; it sets the tone perfectly and has nerves jangling on edge more so than the best of thrillers. It's clear from the onset we're dealing with a preposterously large and consuming monster, but rather than run away the listener is compelled to run forward and join the dark side. The intensity is almost too much to adequately describe with words; back alley barks and ear ripping shrieks would represent the inhuman results far better.

In penmanship “The Day the Music Stopped” is less enthralling, but producer Ian Button (formerly of Glasvegas) has rammed every drop of blood shed during the previous song into the track, and the tempo doesn't relent, neither does it pause during the desperate “I'm in Love with the Hospital Receptionist”. “Monkey Serum”, which is available for free download from the band's Last.FM page (here) acts like CPR reincarnated as sound, leaping and bounding in a persistent thrash of rhythm, and “Stop Making A Scene” is the first to move away from Hawkin's perverted fight folk to enter commercial punk territory, perfectly demonstrating the way it's done.

Further on, previous single “I've Had My Fun” revives the atmosphere, or rather destroys any nerves that may have been regained over the course of the last six tracks, and effortlessly underpins the depression-turned-wrath of every forced conventionalist out there. There follows the most of serene tracks, “The Yellow Castle On the Hill”, which has the same affect as plunging into a bucket of cold water. Similar achievements pursue.

There are no highlights on Apologies to the Enlightenment, because while each song retains a sense of individuality and is recognisably separate, all are diagnosable, inspired and addictive in a way music has never managed to be before. It's miraculously overwhelming, fucking brilliant, and it's left me speechless. Now bow down, we've found our saviour, and if I don't shut up and listen to this in a dark room, I'm going to start talking in tongues.

Release date 19/04/2010