The songs on Hazel stick to comfortingly familiar arrangements buried deep in Californian flower-power tradition, but the albums nine tracks are covered in a sensitive folk-gazing sweetness that becomes rather addictive with time. Not everything is immediately rewarding, but there are so many delicate tones of wistful beauty waiting to reveal itself for those who are patient.
The opener “Intro Yr Mind” sets the tone of the album that’s been nearly three years in the making. And it shows by the way each song bares its own uniqueness once you dig below the unruffled surface. “Sweet Bird” might start of as a typical Local Natives-style indie folk but quickly unfolds into a 50’s style rockabilly ballad of The Platters or Pat Boone. Another stand-out is the heart-wrecking centerpiece of “Annabelle”, a classic tale of unfaithfulness with the bittersweet lyrics contradicted by light affectionate guitar play. “Maze”, a track that we less than a week ago featured as an instant classic, still remains the albums outstanding moment, but Hazel is indeed a proper album in the most traditional sense, meant to be enjoyed from cover to cover, working as an entity without any obvious flaws.
While all the songs keep within the boundaries of glistening folk pop, there are enough elements of surprise stirring up the soothing pace. On both “Wrecking Ball” and album closer “Ride On” we’re introduced to stunning horns with a triumphant outcome, excelling both tracks beyond any preconceptions. The atypical “Baby’s First Steps” sets a darker tone with a skulking guitar groove that gradually unfolds into a funky disco-folk crescendo. It’s brilliantly placed near the end, fitting nicely between the airy “White Light Years” and the gorgeous aforementioned album closer.
Each song on Hazel has a clear purpose. The songs are perfectly crafted to fit the album format, nothing wasteful or out of place, with all nine songs interlaced to make a warm and inviting whole. If you’ve read this far we imagine Hazel already caught your attention. Now be sure not palm off Young Hunting with one rakish listen. These tunes need time to breathe before they unravel, but once they do, it should stand clear that Hazel is very solid effort from Young Hunting.
- Young Hunting – Maze (ifoundmusic.com)