The Maccabees frontman’s ebullient second solo effort breathes joy with art-pop coolness.
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Few from UK indie’s late-noughties heyday have remained as lovable as Orlando Weeks. Since The Maccabees’ disbandment in 2016, their erstwhile singer has worked closely with younger acts on the scene, written and illustrated the children’s book The Gritterman – also brought to life as an album with Paul Whitehouse – and become a father, an experience that in no short measure inspired his return to music with his 2020 solo album The Quickening.
Today, the singer has released his second full-length, Hop Up, which finds him openly enthralled and inspired by fatherhood. There are childhood tropes of chimes and dreamlike flutes littered throughout, like toys strewn across the floor, ready to trip the listener into a playful world that draws heavily on the 80s sounds of Arthur Russell, Paul Simon and Tears For Fears.
Where A Quickening continued in The Macabees’ latter-day ability to build rhythmically and energetically on a swelling, bittersweet feeling, Hop Up is spritely, buoyant and bright. Cavernous opener ‘Deep Down Way Out’ may begin with a sense of slow and suspenseful trepidation, but it quickly blooms into ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’, the record’s emotional reference point and by far one of Weeks’ highlights as a songwriter.
Just as the song’s title alludes to the 1993 film of the same name, there’s also a faint touch of Rusted Root’s ‘Send Me On My Way’ (from the 1996 Matilda soundtrack) in the bouncy acoustic guitars of the chorus, which no doubt adds to its childlike joy.
Subtle contributions from up-and-comers Katie J Pearson (on the art-pop head-nodder ‘Bigger’) and Willie J Healey (on the icy ‘High Kicking’) are welcome, and Bullion’s production helps Hop Up breathe and pop as it seeks to. At its centre, Weeks invites us to join him in the newfound perspective and joy for life that fatherhood has blessed him with. On album closer ‘Way to GO’, he beckons: “Come to the window/ Look at those eyes/ And the red lights of the tops of the cranes/ And the weather screams at the window pane/ And then in the end it’s still/ A stranger in a silver car.”
Tracklisting: 1. Deep Down Way Out 2. Look Who’s Talking Now 3. Bigger 4. Yup Yup Yup Yup 5. High Kicking 6. No End To Love 7. Hey You Hop Up 8. Make You Happy 9. Big Skies, Silly Faces 10. Silver 11. Way To Go