Perth’s Littlehawk, aka Gavin Arnold, released his second album, Good Life, on 18 March. A follow up to his highly rated debut, Chinchilla (2018), Good Life sees Littlehawk in beguilingly good form, pumping out a very generous 11 tracks of indie pop goodness that, when the world switches onto it, will make him a massive overnight sensation.
Good Life is the work of a quiet pop genius, living among us mostly unseen, but poised for stardom.
There are so many nuances in the 11 tracks that make up Good Life, so much packed into each song that, as a reviewer, it’s difficult to know where to start making sense of the experience for an audience. Do you start with the references to the likes of Gorillaz, Gotye or Vance Joy? No, because, while this is company Littlehawk’s songs keep well, making such references is too easy and reductive. But, if you like that sort of stuff — and who doesn’t? — you’re going to love Littlehawk.
Nope, you just have to dive into the songs and let them sneak up on you like the indie pop gems they are. The songs on Good Life aren’t demanding, they gently filter into your being, happy to sit in the background until you wake up one day and think, ‘Hang on, I have to listen to that again, because I don’t think I can live without these songs anymore’.
Good Life kicks into being with the beat propelled synth pop of the title track, promising Good times and natural highs. The chorus sits on a gorgeous uplift and sets up the listener for what’s to come. Nothing here is in your face, the songs on Good Life are invitationals, giving you the option to ride along with them, leaving it up to you. Until you’ve listened a few times, then they’re with you for ever, and you’re with them, too, inhabiting the world of Littlehawk.
In Littlehawk’s world, dreams are drenched in reverb and all doors are open. There’s a sense of reoccurrence, a circularity that eventually brings progress, once you’ve come to terms with your past lives. It’s heavy stuff, but Littlehawk wraps it up in such airy music that you can’t help but feel his overall sense of optimism.
Themes of control, hope, emotional security, loneliness, enlightenment and more are threaded through Littlehawks lyrics right across the 11 tracks on Good Life. This is a deep pool to dive into, there’s plenty of mental and emotional stimulus and nourishment to live through, ranging from the gentle despair of ‘Drove My Heart’ — He cried himself to sleep everyday — to the jerky disco rap of ‘Ecstacy’ — I’m a genuine enlightenment machine.
But, though the pool is deep, Littlehawk provides a lifejacket with the music he’s wrapped around his lyrics. The songs on Good Life draw their coherence from their gentle but persistent backbeats and the blend of analogue instrumentation — acoustic guitar and piano, mostly — entwined with trippy electronica. It’s an approach to song writing and arrangement that Littlehawk pulls off with deft authority, making every song a masterpiece in miniature and creating an album that has narrative heft and music that rewards with every listen. It also means that Littlehawk can do pretty much whatever he likes and still sound like himself, so we find ourselves traversing dreampop, krautrock, disco, rap, pretty much anything our sonic leader desires, and it all sounds like it belongs. That’s quite a feat!
Good Life is the work of a quiet pop genius, living among us mostly unseen, but poised for stardom. But don’t take my word for it, have a listen for yourself.
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