In Guy Debord’s 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle, he critically analyses the everyday manifestation of capitalist-driven phenomena; the glaring adverts we see on TV and the concept of the ‘spectacle’ and how celebrity culture simply pacifies the masses. It is a state of mind that secretly consumes us all, but Australian-born, LA-based Hazel English strives to rise above it.
Debut album Wake UP! is an album born from English’s own self-discovery. Commencing with “Born Like”, statement lyric “Born like / you’re born like / born like any other” delivers the reality check that we are all in fact human, whilst the title track acts as a public service announcement to draw yourself away from the fictious world of your smartphone.
The questions of “who am I?”, “am I heading in the right direction?” and “do I feel connected to others?” trail backwards and forwards as if thought was put to paper almost instantly. “Off My Mind” displays this in abundance, as the chorus sings “Drifting in and out of consciousness / got to find a way to get out of this mess / I don’t want to watch my life just pass me by”.
Fizzing with melodies, the dream-pop infused aura that emanates throughout is charming and vastly uncomplicated. Her vintage aesthetic sealing the deal.
Whilst English’s smooth tone and poetic songwriting paints a dreamy soundscape, what English delivers here primarily, is concise honesty. Rather than washing over fantasised ideals, she tells us exactly how it is, how it makes her feel and what she wants to do in order to gain her power back. “Combat” with its swaying guitar tells of her unreciprocated efforts in a relationship, whilst album closer “Work It Out” breaks into a deeper corner of her vulnerability as the emotive guitar riff is narrated by “We can work it out / sure I have my doubts / we will see this through”.
In current times, whilst the world sits in an unearthly silence, we are forcibly driven to the digital world to entertain us and often keep us company. Wake UP! heavily contradicts that notion, asking us to do something that right now might seem straightforward - become more present in our own lives.