Album review: hawaiii

Jess Buick, Contributor Ω

If you’re a Said the Whale fan, you’ve probably had Sept. 17 marked on your calendar since the I Love You EP was released earlier this summer, which featured tracks from the band’s latest album, hawaiii.

Said the Whale – hawaiii

Said the Whale – hawaiii. Image courtesy Hidden Pony Records

As always, the Vancouver-based indie rock quintet succeeded in recording a sunny album featuring their well-known teenage wanderlust writing and signature “oohs” and “ahhs” complemented by crisp keyboards.

Tom Dobrzanski, who has worked with other Canadian indie bands such as The Zolas and Kelowna’s own We Are the City, produced the album.

With hawaiii, Said the Whale has moved away from the ever-indulgent songs about young love or the city of Vancouver, and has instead taken a more family-oriented and self-reflective approach.

“Mother” is an upbeat song with lyrics revealing an internal battle with how one should live their life, begging the listeners “Don’t tell my mother ’til I pull myself together.”

If you don’t listen to commercial radio strictly because you can’t stand having a song bouncing around your brainwaves for days, do not listen to “I Love You.” The instant this song starts, its extreme infectiousness has the listener dancing and repeating, “You know, you know, I love you,” over and over again and spurs the urge to start shaking a tambourine.

With all the fun, bubbly, ’60s-esque pop tunes that keep you floating through the album, hawaiii takes an interesting turn near the closing of the record.

The second-to-last song, “Helpless Son,” smacks you in the face with dark subject matter. It starts with very beautiful harmonies and builds musically for the duration of the song. The lyrical content and imagery are powerful and compelling. Written from the perspective of a mourning son, he asks his dying mother to tell him about her youth, the places she loved and whether he was the son she had always hoped he’d be.

“I’ve watched your skin and bones give out / wincing at the pain you’ve felt / helpless son I am to you,” is a powerful line sung close to the beginning of the song which makes one really pick up on the subject matter.

hawaiii is no doubt going to please their fans. Musically, Said the Whale doesn’t stray very far from their previous albums, but kudos to them for sticking to what they know, and executing it brilliantly.