Music Reviews

Maya Hawke’s latest has potential, but rarely delivers

Images from Maya Hawke's official Facebook page.

Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. — Chaos Angel by Maya Hawke is a mediocre folk-rock album. Released May 31, the album slogs through a tracklist filled with songs brimming with potential. 

Throughout the album, Hawke weaves a narrative about the complexities of life through a chaotic mix of guitars, hit-or-miss vocal performances and a strong beat. 

Hawke’s hushed, airy voice remains pivotal to the album’s strongest moments.

In “Dark,” Hawke’s weak delivery adds emotion to a song describing the pains of an emotionally abusive relationship. With the quiet echoes of Hawke’s harmonies, the song shines.

“Better,” Hawke’s most experimental track within the album, solidifies her unique sound despite an album awash with only a few standouts. The song oscillates between saccharine-sweet comfort and dry lyrics. 

In addition, Hawke’s songwriting feels like a copy of many indie-folk artists. With her simple lyricism, Hawke nearly loses an avenue to differentiate herself. Many of her lyrics feel heavily influenced by standouts of the indie-folk scene, leading to a loss of Hawke’s own style.

At its best, the album hangs on a careful balance between common indie-folk melancholia and a fresh sound distinctive to Hawke. Hawke’s harmonies richly fill the repetitive soundscape of a carefully plucked guitar, synthesizers, and the occasional violin. 

“Missing Out,” Hawke’s biggest hit since “Thérèse” in 2022, blends Hawke’s direct songwriting with an upbeat beat. In the refreshing song, Hawke grapples with her celebrity parentage, her sense of belonging, and the feeling of ‘missing out.’ 

Hawke also shows her musical growth in the song “Hang In There.”

“Hang In There” is the best song on the album by far. With a gently lulling guitar melody, direct songwriting, and a sound distinct to Hawke, it highlights Hawke’s potential for growth for the rest of her musical career. 

At its worst, the album is sleep-inducing. Tracks blend into each other without much differentiation. Hawke’s sound remains painfully repetitive.

Due to Hawke’s tone, her voice becomes muted in songs such as “Okay” and “Big Idea,” making the listening experience difficult. 

Still, the album is well worth a listen. 

Dana Kim is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

Leave a Comment