In 2020 Orlando Weeks was very much finding his feet, both as a first-time father and as a solo artist. His debut album A Quickening was a sleepy one, bleary-eyed and level-headed in the face of the anxieties of parenthood; mature and measured in a way that you probably have to be when you’ve just hung up your indie rock frontman shoes and opted for a cleaner, more intimate and more adult approach to music-making.
But where that record was full of hushed tones and hazy melodies, Hop Up changes tact entirely. Upbeat and assured, the shift doesn’t feel forced, and what could quite easily have come across as a bit of a musical mid-life crisis seems more like a case of organic, career-best progression.
Exultant opening duo ‘Deep Down Way Out’ and ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’ set the mood: the former playing with a plodding funk-tinged bassline and twangy guitars while the latter simmers with elated, more electronic moments and lofty pop instrumentals. Weeks hasn’t abandoned the drowsy persona and warm, fuzzy calm altogether though. ‘High Kicking’ – a humming ballad of a track that features cloying harmonies courtesy of Willie J Healey – is a hark back to that place: all soft string licks and gauzy guitar buzzes. ‘Silver’ plays into the old-timey ambience too, with a twinkling, grandiose opening bar, mellow and meandering vocals and muffled drum beats that pulse like a distant heartbeat.
But as things wrap up on hip-swaying, foot-tapping closer ‘Way to GO’, it’s hard to see this album as anything other than a natural step into the left-field for Orlando Weeks: a distinguished metamorphosis of style as much as subject.
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