More about: Orlando Weeks
The announcement of Orlando Week’s new album felt like booking a reservation, months in advance, at your favourite restaurant. Satisfying and reliable, I expected his sophomore record to be the melancholic main course that would further satiate the pangs of the persistent pandemic. Yet unexpectedly, as I sat down to devour Hop Up in its entirety, I was pulled into the uplifting currents of Week’s swirling vocals. In fact, if it wasn’t for the distinctive yearning of Orlando Week’s voice—that familiar croon I have spent so many hours with throughout my adolescence—I would be tempted to think I had pressed play on the wrong album.
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Hop Up—in name as it is in nature—is an uplifting leap into optimism that soothes and reassures the previous wounds his debut solo album The Quickening once salted. The album was born through a creative approach described by Week’s as the opposite of catharsis, in which, instead of expelling his anguish he began “purposefully holding on to and cultivating moments that felt good”. This process of compiling and preserving affectionate moments is amplified by the light-hearted melodies and rhythms of leftfield pop, radiating an overwhelming warmth throughout the record.
Hop Up begins with a plunge into the depths of unapologetic joy: "you’re the best thing, and I’m the worst for it" Week’s boasts over distinct basslines and rippling harmonies. Reminiscent of 10cc, ‘Deep Down, Way Out’, burrows worms of hope in your brain ready to feast on your resistance. As the record progresses, the undertones of '80s experimental pop, most prominent in ‘Bigger’, manage to swell in sound whilst maintaining a simplicity that makes each element of production feel concise and intentional.
From the layered textures of Ben Reed’s bass in ‘Big Skies Silly Faces’ to the more mediative lulls of Jonny Mansfield’s Vibraphone in ‘High Kicking’, the album maintains a dream-like pace throughout, mimicking the ebbs and flows that come in hand with discovering a new love.
For Week’s, this newfound love was his son, and with every day and new experience, it felt as if he was falling in love over and over again. This is explored at the album’s peak with the track ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’ where steady paced beats and synths rise and fall in pitch as Week’s sings: “look who’s falling in love again”. As arguably the grandest song on the album, ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’ can effortlessly provoke a smile. Its sound, soaked in nostalgia and warmth, gave me the same feeling as when I heard 'Send Me on My Way' by Rusted Roots for the first time as a child.
The album closes with the track ‘Way to Go’. The opening line “come to the window” layered over long, drawn-out notes feels as if longing has begun to resurface, only to be interrupted by the final groove of a snappy electronic pop chorus that rises with intermittent jaunts of isolated piano chords. The lyrics focus on the little details noticed when love makes your world feel brand new, an appreciation for the way the television glows or the fondness you feel for strangers. This is an intimacy many of us can relate to; the shrinking of our worlds in lockdown birthed a new gratitude for the small moments, and that is the pacifying energy that bursts from ‘Way to Go’. With one last squeeze of your hand, the album closes on the reassurance that the buoyancy of listening will live on outside of the record.
If A Quickening was the half-empty glass, Hop Up is the refill that will overflow onto the kitchen counter. Orlando Week’s sophomore endeavour proves that amidst the current infectious state of the world, optimism is still contagious.
Hop Up arrives 14 January via Play It Again Sam.
Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.
More about: Orlando Weeks