Formerly of the band Hail Social, Davye Hawk has now released his third album as Memory Tapes. The album, titled Grace/Confusion, offers the chillwave sound that Hawk is known for but with a fuller, crisper and more melodic take.
The album consists of only six tracks but clocks in at 39 minutes, each song one long and ethereal thread tying to the next. The length of each track also gives the flexibility and range for Hawk to experiment with different sounds and interludes—with songs starting off bright and cheery, and segueing into darker and slower beats, like in the opening track, “Neighborhood Watch.” This tune is also a prime example of the accessible approach Hawk has taken, providing ears with complex and uplifting melodies. Hawk’s last album, Player Piano, the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, Seek Magic, fell flat, but Grace/Confusion, with its return to instrumental and vocal fullness, picks up where the debut left off.
The upbeat core of the album, represented by tracks like “Thru The Field” and “Safety,” transports the listener to a happier place. And with “Safety” just shy of eight minutes, it provides a platform for sound and melody experimentation that had me checking to see if I was still listening to the same song.
“Let Me Be” is a darker, low-tempo offering that balances the album. The mellow vibe doesn’t last for long, as Hawk follows this up with a very Hall And Oates-like track, “Sheila,” in which Hawk sings of love atop a fun electronic beat with ’80s undertones. The album wraps with a mellow and almost empty-sounding “Follow Me,” which is a bit reminiscent of a track that didn’t make the cut on Player Piano.