Orlando Weeks – ‘Hop Up’ review: the former Maccabees frontman offers the listener a lift
Orlando Weeks’ journey as a solo musician is inextricably linked to his growth as a parent; he portrays the latter as unpredictable and complex, magical and rewarding in unexpected ways. If his solo debut ‘A Quickening’ was about the simmering anxiety and anticipation of bringing another person into the world, ‘Hop Up’ captures the loose, spontaneous joy of watching them develop and come into their own. It’s featherlight and carefree, these 11 dextrous indie-pop tracks honouring his decade as frontman of The Maccabees.
This album emerged from a faster recording process than last year’s ‘A Quickening’, which is reflected in its more immediate, energetic sound. ‘Deep Down Way Out’ sets the pace with a confident, observational cut defined by funky basslines and nostalgic synths – though the complex mix never overpowers Weeks’ trademark meditative voice. His lyrics, too, are sweeter than ever. “Look who’s falling in love again”, you can almost hear him smile on album standout ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’, evoking the wonder of seeing life through the eyes of a fledgling human being who is discovering the world.
True, the sonic experimentations can be a little hit and miss: invasive harmonies and harmonica somewhat distract from Weeks’ strength as a vocalist on ‘Bigger’, while the boldness of ‘Yup Yup Yup Yup’, with its metronomic keys and cut-up lyrics, makes for some of the most oddly compelling work of his career as a soloist. ‘No End To Love’ asks you – in a wild turn of events for the contemplative Weeks – to dance with total abandon by the time the soaring horns are finished, while the album’s gleefully cacophonous energy is bottled in ‘Hey You Hop On Up’, as he blends cheery ’80s sounds – flute, buoyant keys – seemingly with the sole purpose of entertaining that new little child in his life.
By the time you reach closer ‘Way To Go’, Weeks’ newfound vigour and happiness has become catching, and is so welcome. As a whole, ‘Hop Up’ sounds undeniably warmer, more open-hearted and relaxed than he has ever been on record. This is an album about embracing the hopefulness of new life and striving to share Weeks’ singular, miraculous happiness with anyone who might be dragging their feet, stumbling upon the songs with little excitement about a currently dreary day-to-day. You finish this collection feeling lighter, a little more optimistic about what the world has to offer.
Release date: January 14
Record label: Play It Again Sam