Hawksley Workman (the stage name of Canadian Ryan Corrigan) experiments constantly, so I’m never sure if his mood of the moment will translate into music I like. “Jealous of My Cigarette” led me to buy his next album, the enjoyable Lover/Fighter, but I didn’t care for his softer follow-up Treefull of Starling. I avoided him for half-a-decade, but, due to a lack of bands I like releasing anything new over the last few months, I decided to give him another shot. He was on the longlist for the Polaris, so I figured he must be in some sort of state of revival.
He released a full album back in January called Meat which is half of a project called Meat and Milk. Milk was released week by week, song by song on his website (and available on iTunes too). It’s all out now, although there seems to be some confusion about what tracks are actually on it. The LP doesn’t contain “Not Your Parents’ Music”, but the CD does. Weird. I can’t even tell if “Chemical”, the latest single on his site, is a part of the project.
I’m confused because the full album, Meat, lacks the unity of the piecemeal released Milk. Meat, I assume intentionally, is raw and it has some excellent moments of passion. After four weak tracks, making me worry that Hawksley Workman was still not in tune with my tastes, “Baby Mosquito” flies in. It tries to capture that bedroom-at-night-haunting-buzz with electric guitars— not as well as Modest Mouse’s “Fly Trapped in a Jar”, but it’s still a solid track. The backbone of the album is “You Don’t Just Want to Break Me” (“you want to tear me apart”): one of those 8 minute build-ups for which I professed my love in earlier reviews. The album lulls briefly, but finishes more-or-less strong with the fun “(The Happiest Day I Know is a) Tokyo Bicycle” and moving “The Ground We Stand On” leading the charge towards the strong Jack White-ish finale “We’ll Make Time”.
Meat, as an album, left me unsatisfied, but those tracks mentioned above are worth a listen. I shrugged it off and started the string of singles from Milk. The frivolous synthesisers completely caught me off guard. In a very good way.
Some of the tracks on Milk earned “explicit” tags from iTunes, including “Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky”. As a proud, hockey-loving Canadian, I love these lyrics: “Warhol’s portrait of Gretzky / pretty fucking sexy / pretty fucking sexy / oh oh / pink and purple and yellow and blue / and a mouth that’s crying out for lipstick too”.
But that’s jumping the gun. Don’t miss “Animal Behaviour” and “Who Do They Kiss?” at the very beginning. The tracks on Milk are good kids and play well together, but few of them made an impact on me like those I mentioned from Meat.
Which makes me wonder: Why did he release these albums backwards? Milk is great as a whole (seriously, I enjoyed all the songs on it); Meat has songs that should be purchased without the others.
Buy from iTunes:
From Meat: Baby Mosquito, You Don’t Just Want to Break Me, (The Happiest Day I Know is a) Tokyo Bicycle, The Ground We Stand On, We’ll Make Time
Milk was mistakenly released as a full album in the U.S.A. back in January. In Canada, it was put out song by song. In order, they are:
*Animal Behaviour, *Who Do They Kiss?, Google Jesus, Devastating, We Dance to Yesterday, Robot Heart, Suicidekick, *Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky, Stay Drunk and Keep Fucking, Snow Angel, Some People, Wayside, Not Your Parents’ Music