Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Maya Hawke becomes her own saviour on Chaos Angel

"Chaos Angel"

Release date: 31 May 2024
Maya Hawke Chaos Angel cover
30 May 2024, 09:00 Written by Amy Perdoni

Maya Hawke’s discography has consistencies.

Besides her standard but absolutely no less magnificent dreamy vocals and acoustic guitar assisted lullabies, there is her writing, which plunges fearlessly into the cobwebbed corners of her own humanity.

On 2022’s MOSS, she used her poetry as a method of ‘untangling’ all she’d gathered in the couple years prior, and on her third studio album, this practice has become her focal skill. Chaos Angel demonstrates a harmonious awareness of oneself, a meticulous observation of not only the inner workings, but all that’s external and crucial too.

Opener “Black Ice” slowly swells into an orchestral second half, a multitude of voices singing in its company; comparably the following track “Dark” exhibits a slightly unsure, peaceful yet nervous vocal performance atop serene strumming, erupting at full force with sudden drums helping to build an electric bridge. As this record begins, it’s instantly undeniable that Hawke, with the assistance producer and longtime collaborator Christian Lee Hutson, is accomplishing more this time around with her choices of instrumentation, providing a wider array of colour and emotion, assigning these songs their own unexpected mood swings. These shifts could be examined as a parallel between the music and the musician, as if Hawke is representing the changes in her perceptions through sound, as the sheer repetition of the phrase “Give up, be loved” closing out the first aforementioned track seems overwhelmingly conclusive, her final realisation rising with the instrumentation. Above all else, Hawke likes to keep honest self-reflection at the forefront of her art.

The album’s title spawns from a fictional character of Hawke’s wild imagination – one allegedly mistaken as the angel of love who, in her efforts to do good, only ever appears to create wreckage. However, in telling the angel's epiphany, she specifies a moment in which the angel grasps an understanding of her purpose, that "the necessary ingredient for love is change, and the necessary ingredient for change is chaos.” This allegory might allow some insight into Hawke’s own evolution whilst making this record, having dug deep through the mud in order to enact a different sort of growth – she tells Best Fit in a recent interview that making the album “was about finding love for parts of myself and decisions I’ve made that I had a lot of guilt, shame and regret for”. It shows something adjacent to a messy rebirth, a way of reviewing past feelings and experiences through a new and fruitful lens.

But this music is rich with empathy, too. “Hang In There” is a universal consolation to many women, a comforting and assuring beacon of hope and solidarity. Hawke performs a beautiful serenade to a friend who has been deceived by a boy, and it’s a tale that speaks to all of us, whether we’re the watcher, the waiter, or the one all too familiar – it becomes impossible to feel alone in our burden. There’s some obscure relatability and solace found in the cordial, unassuming delivery of “Man, I wish that I could take his teeth out / He’s gonna get away with it / I know, I’ve been there” – absurd as that may seem. This is not the first time Hawke has explored societal and cultural issues that disadvantage women, it’s slightly reminiscent of MOSS cut “Bloomed Into Blue”, equally as soothing and simultaneously devastating. On “Okay”, the words “If you’re okay, then I’m okay” rerun like a mantra, as if reaching for a signal or calling out for a connection. Hawke’s writing can often feel as though it’s been extracted from a forgotten love letter, now preserved and revived, ready to be received by someone new, in all its sincerity and care.

To view this record as an artist’s journey towards self-acceptance, it’s felicitous to wrap up the album with a vulnerable title track, the closing statements being “I’m sorry / I promise / I love you”. And, it’s of course valid to suggest that Hawke is singing right back to herself here. Her songwriting has stressed the importance of love, love that breaks the mould, enlightens, and perseveres through the heaviest blows against it; the love she conjures here is just as beneficial for herself as it is for her listeners. Chaos Angel stays inherently pure, expertly produced in a way that Hawke’s airy vocals are free to dance over a gathering of enchanting instrumentation. Still, her poetic writing achievements rest at the foreground of the record, demonstrating a detailed surveillance of her life, in order to acquire some valuable closure in the face of chaos.

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