Torn Hawk – Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time (Mexican Summer, 2014)


Torn Hawk’s Luke Wyatt appears to have outdone himself once again in his second full length of the year; his previous effort Through Force of Will was one I admired for its unrelenting scale and rather unusual presentation, carving out vast tracts of destroyed synth and crooning guitar lines to support its freedom fighting and anarchic tendencies, but Let’s Cry is something of a rather different beast altogether. Whilst much of the core instrumentation appears rather unchanged, here we’re faced with certain introspections and realities of aging and self-consciousness that make this not only a wholly more emotionally potent release but one that seems a great deal more relatable, even if a little satirical in presentation.

The opener is a nice introduction to this new and fresh sound; “I’m Flexible” has a certain clarity and lucidity that was distinctly absent in the VHS scuzz of his last release, its warbling synth lines admittedly still playing out with a light obfuscation but the excitable guitar crooning is definitely sounding fresher and clearer. It’s a jovial number, providing a nice and relatively stable opening to the album in its idiosyncratic synth spinnings, before tumbling into jumbled guitar madness in its closing moments as it bends a new way. Followup “She Happens” has retained some of that fringe Vapourwave vibe but feels like a great continuation as it idles in dreamy arpeggios and replete, even sumptuous atmospheres, with only the guitar melting to give it some meat. It feels restless though, like much of the album, unable to sleep as our mind wanders to her in those sticky Summer evenings.

And that I think highlights this youthful pining this album seems to evoke, of days not so long since passed that we’d like to perhaps have the opportunity to relive. “Afterprom” has a certain cinematic quality to it, a specific Summer night nostalgia that’s pulled along by minimal drum machines and meandering guitar lines but somehow exudes a certain haughty bravado and youthful cockiness, this sensation of being independent and important and untouchable. The titanic “Acceptance Speech” a little later along runs in a similar vein, albeit with a vastly different presentation, blasting out endless fidgety electronica before introducing the stadium-sized guitars as we embrace this shining and self-indulgent moment, our ego soaking up the big lights and sea of eyes.But just like that the moment fades, we sit back down, our heart slows and we abruptly vanish into recent memory.

The other side of this record is a little different, more wont to pander to our worries and inhibitions but taking care to throw it all under a translucent facade; “Return To The Pec Deck” is an energised piece with some of the most playful and upbeat synth movements and Acid-crunching (but distant) drum lines so far, suddenly finding itself absorbed with appearance and the need to exercise, fronting itself as a sort of workout piece to cover its monotony and chore-like nature. These frustrations are crystallised somewhat later in the appropriately titled closer “There Was A Time”, a cherry on this youth-yearning cake; its tinkling motions and more melancholic piano turnings are both spritely and sad, lusting after the effortlessness of being young when these things weren’t an active concern, offset by clearly shielding bombast from the more upbeat synths that noodle alongside, playing it all off.

I love the sort of filmic narration being presented here, the fact that it foists something rather intimate in a musically huge and convoluted sort of way; it’s brash at times too, but only because it’s trying to relive some of those haughty teenage moments and bury some of its present self-consciousness that seems to have ballooned with age. The maddening reality is that we’re not all going to be young forever and somehow possessing the quickly fading memories from our youth seems to make the situation worse as we dream of its ease and worry-less naivety, and Luke’s hypnagogic, vapourwaving psychedelia just seems to hit the nail on the head.