Maya Hawke : Chaos Angel

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Maya Hawke Chaos Angel review

Reflection can be scary; looking to the past can potentially open a Pandora’s Box of wounds and regret. But reflection done in compassion can lead to insightful discoveries that can potentially alter the course of one’s life. To achieve such a reward, it’s best not to shy away from the details; they must embrace the ache of memory while accepting the grace to learn and grow.

This duality of introspection is at the heart of Chaos Angel, the third LP from Maya Hawke. At the age of 25, Hawke has proven herself to be a multi-faceted artist; yet among her talents, there’s a palpable emotionality that comes through in her music. While Hawke’s voice and her band sound lovely, her greatest talent lies in her words. She has a way with lyrics that come together to paint intimate vignettes of life—these portals that establish place and characters with a dream-like quality yet feel grounded and relatable.

Throughout Chaos Angel, Hawke invites the listener into a series of memories radiating with tinges of melancholy, grief, laughter, and warmth. Among these songs are an array of trying moments in the artist’s life and her efforts to reflect on those events while extracting lessons to carry forward. In doing so, Hawke is careful to not veer hard into nostalgia that is cast in doom or blind celebration—while her lyrics flirt with abstract messaging, there’s always an essence of sincerity, good or bad.

“Black Ice,” the album’s opener, exudes a yearning that aches and vibrates through time, Hawke’s lyrics emphasizing that air through lines such as “When it rains, I feel like a kid in the car / The street lights and the satellites blur with the stars.” In “Dark,” Hawke illustrates a relationship that blurs with love, frustration and compassion. One line speaks to an individual being hit by a piece of jewelry; another involves Hawke expressing desire for this person; and another acknowledging this person’s struggles.

These layers of emotion capture the intricacies of Hawke’s lyricism—her ability to intertwine contrasting mood and atmosphere—her means of conveying story and memory in human ways. Sometimes a lovely moment from our past is afflicted with ache, and sometimes even a sad moment can be underlined by some happiness. During the chorus of “Wrong Again,” Hawke seems to express this in some spiritually adjacent way: “Falling is the fastest way / To make an old friend / It’ll still be worth it / Even if we’re wrong again.

Hawke said in a statement about the album, “The only thing to regret is the time I’ve spent regretting.” As she traverses these old stories, she embraces pain and mistakes made with an acceptance that’s profound and moving. While the album is a personal work, these songs offer a universal appeal. An example of this is the track “Big Idea,” which seems to imply this message of carving out one’s own path in life and refusing to ignore conventions being pushed onto them.

While Maya Hawke has her own personal beliefs on what the “Chaos Angel” means to her, another potential read is that a “Chaos Angel” represents childhood—the young, carefree spirit who charges into the world with sincerity and love, and who is bound to fuck up sometimes. When it comes to screw-ups, there’s a temptation to run away and not confront one’s pain—it takes guts to do so. Hawke displays throughout Chaos Angel what bravery and self-compassion can do: When we allow ourselves to learn from pain, when we re-examine old stories with maturity and love, we have the means of carving new paths in our life and evolving.

Label: Mom+Pop

Year: 2024

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