Album Review: Hawksley Workman – Milk

This Ain’t Your

Parents’ Music

Hawksley Workman’s Milk

Tracks from Hawksley Workman’s Milk have been released online, weekly since the release of Meat in January of this year.  However, the physical album was not released until Aug 10th, and since I’m the sort of person who prefers HMV to iTunes, I’m only now recognizing this as an album worth reviewing.
Where Meat was dark and bloody, full of heartache and anger; Milk is pure and light, full of dancing and happiness. At least on the surface.  Further exploration unearths heavy topics like suicide, politics, love and religion.  ‘Suicidekick’, ‘Stay Drunk and Keep Fucking’ and ‘Some People’ all shun the shallow, materialistic and sometimes ugly world we live in.  They also contain an uncharacteristic amount of F-bombs. Almost like Meat leftovers, ‘Devastating’, ‘Robot Heart’ and ‘Wayside’ show a real vulnerability; “Be kind to me, my robot heart is fragile too” and “my eyes want nothing but to see you home again”.  The latest single, ‘Chemical’ balances out the sadness, telling a love story to a techno beat, perhaps reflecting Hawksley’s recent marriage.
Animal Behaviour’ opens the album, reviving the sexuality he first displayed in his best known single, ‘Striptease’. Both of these songs, among others, are explicit and lyrically straightforward, yet he never sounds sleazy.  The following track, ‘Who Do They Kiss?’ takes things in a completely different direction with family-friendly lyrics and a clap-along beat.  In fact, almost every song on this album will make you snap, clap or sway along to the music, whether you want to or not.
Not one to stay serious for long, ‘Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky’ and ‘We Dance to Yesterday’ show off Hawksley’s kooky side.  The former is exactly what it sounds like- a song inspired by Andy Warhol’s portrait of The Great One, which apparently is “pretty fucking sexy”.
Some of Hawksley’s longtime fans may not be too sure what to think of his recent affinity for techno beats and vocoders, or the inclusion of ‘Not Your Parents’ Music’ in a Virgin Mobile ad.  Luckily for us, his brand of dance music has nothing to do with T-Pain.  In fact, most of the tracks have an 80’s theme to them; ‘Some People’ definitely channels Bowie, ‘Google Jesus’ sounds like a primitive video game and ‘We Dance to Yesterday’ celebrates, well, enjoying retro music.
All in all, Milk is the perfect companion to Meat, or even as a standalone album.  If you’re initially thrown by his change in sound, give it a few more listens.  Eventually you’ll notice that the quality of music production, the deep lyrics and the wacky sense of humour from the Hawksley we all know and love is still there.


(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Oct 20 2010)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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