Polyvinyl

HAZEL ENGLISH - Wake Up! LP (red vinyl)

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“Sometimes I feel like we’re just sleepwalking through our lives. We’re not really present.” Hazel English wants us to open our eyes. Through her shimmering, daydream-pop, the California based singer-songwriter is on a mission to rattle the cages of our very existence, asking us to dig deep and ask challenging questions of ourselves. Wake UP!, her debut album, is a call to arms: an attempt to “make people become more aware and mindful,” she says.

Listening to the record, it should come as no surprise that ‘Revolver’-era Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas, The Zombies and Jefferson Airplane were all at the forefront of her mind while recording. “Radical messages need a raw and vibrant backdrop to pop,” she says, and she’s kept her trademark sunshine-filled sound that fits her Los Angeles dwelling, but with bigger, stirring choruses. It's a testament to English’s writing style and ear for a hook that she won’t make anything that she couldn’t play stripped back to its bones, refusing to rely on production to carry a song. Standouts like the infectious ‘Off My Mind’ and ‘Like A Drug’, with its swirling hypnosis, find English’s songcraft at its most accomplished.

Lead single ‘Shaking’ wears its ‘60s psych influences on its paisley patterned sleeve. Written by Hazel and frequent collaborator Blake Stranathan (Lana Del Rey), it was a painstaking effort: “I just couldn’t rest until I had gotten it to a place where it felt like I could sleep at night. And I’m really glad I did,” she says. Tackling themes of power, lust, manipulation, pleasure, and control, its Erin S. Murray-directed video strikes right at the heart of this idea, finding English as the charismatic ringleader of her own Manson-esque cult, manipulating her subjects in a babydoll dress and beehive hairstyle. “It presents the promise of a spiritual awakening as a kind of seduction,” she says.


Wake UP! is a rallying call to our 2020 selves; a reminder of what our core values are, packaged up in a glorious, sparkling record. “I hope I can inspire others to also search for their inner truths and find their own inner strength in the process,” English says. “I wanted to create something really dynamic, and kinda wild.”