Huck Hastings is a Sydney based singer/songwriter whose new album ‘Cheers to Progress’ is a cinematic sweep full of longing, love and loss – a vivid and beautifully expressed series of personal vignettes that are endearing, optimistic and heart-breaking at the same time.
This a collection of beautiful personal observations on relationships and love, floating across shimmering instrumentation: intelligent and arch.
Hastings says of the album:
I wrote this album many times and from many different frames of mind.
I’m really interested in how when you stack seemingly mundane moments on top of each other you create a picture of a time or a life that is deeply rich and nuanced. Those little unimportant moments feel really important to me, particularly with hindsight. I used this album to both hold on to and let go of a period of my life.
Opening dreamy instrumental track ‘Hydrogen’ provides a fitting mood for the rest of the album.
Second track, ‘Soft – An Epilogue’, is an exquisite and romantic track filled with a yearning and a degree of infatuation. Hastings’s lyrics have a dexterity and sincerity that is poetic and arch, with a vocal style that recalls the nuances of The Smiths or Arctic Monkeys. He captures the complexities of relationships with an acute sense: in all the ways he taught me to be hard I hope I taught him to be soft.
‘Hang Around’, with its delicate harmonies and earnest lyrics, has a simple intensity and strength. Sparse instrumentation forms a bedrock upon Hastings’s reflections – there is a certain self-deprecatory style and beautiful clarity.
‘Bed’ has a delicate louche feel and yet a brutally honest approach to desire and satisfaction – I can’t think when we last f@cked sobre – seeking salvation with a lover as a buffer against the world.
Intertwining vocals in Back Seat Editor create a haunting effect. ‘It’s Alright It’s Cool (Commitment Issues)’ has a jangling flow that recalls The Housemartins with its C86 flavour – almost twee innocence wrapped in a pure indie pop cloak with the same hopeless romanticism – I can’t commit with anyone but you – amusingly subverting what is expected from the song’s title.
The brief instrumental piece ‘Phosphorus – The Day of Heroic Inevitability’ has layers of effects and distant sounds provides a fitting mid album pause before the resounding bass of ‘The Clincher’ eases in.
‘The Clincher’ is lush and mesmerising – Hastings’s vocals ring like a bell, clear and emotive, filled with a painful yearning for consistency and stability in a relationship. And yet again, Hasting inserts little lines and asides that illuminate a bittersweet sense of humour – I hope you’re happy, I hope you’re well and that your life is good, that both your boyfriends keep you satisfied in ways I never could.
Title track ‘Cheers To Progress’ leads us gently out the album with the melodic strength that encapsulates the album. It’s a bittersweet paean to growth and the inherent change that comes with it, launching into a driving anthemic fast paced indie pop classic – think of the stirring pop of bands like James, replete with intelligence and melody.
Hastings’s deft lyrical magic forms the shining spine to this album – it feels like a very personal insight into his life. However deep and painful, there is a golden thread of hope and optimism – an endearing openness and fragility that is at times heartbreaking and at times euphoric.
You can get the album now through the link below or stream here, and Hastings will be launching the album this Friday at the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst, Sydney – a very unique venue. Full details here.