By Richard Lam
Hawksley Workman produces his own work and plays nearly every instrument, as well as releasing an album a year on average since his 1999 debut. His latest, Meat, marks a natural progression from his heavy rocking Los Manlicious, and is another solid entry in his remarkably consistent and steadily developing career.
After the deceivingly low-fi opening piano ballad “Song for Sarah Jane,” the album finds its rougher sound and Workman runs with it. “Baby Mosquito” employs electric organs, synthesized flutes and slide guitar, creating a mellow tone, capped at the midway point with a muffled and mangled guitar solo. The album’s centerpiece is the eight-minute long “You Don’t Just Want to Break Me,” a slow burner that builds into a passionate, screaming climax- complete with a backing choir.
With absurd lyrics like “The happiest day I know/ Is a Tokyo bicycle”, and song titles “Depress My Hangover Sunday” and “(We Ain’t No) Vampire Bats,” Hawksley proves he is mainly just having fun with this record, focusing on the sound and melodies.
Meat’s production is busy and impeccably crisp, which may turn some listeners off. Those hoping for more of Hawksley’s tender ballads will also find little to satisfy them here. But each of his albums has been a fearless bare-all experiment, and a at this point it’s just a pleasure to listen in.