Hazey is the Brighton bred, Bournemouth born solo project of James Hazell; a woozy, guitar tripping lull down lo-fi lane. In a contemplative, wistful manner, James’s guitar work will constantly remind any local of the pebbly, summer beach that Brighton provides residents. Falling into an overall groove of the likes of Kurt Vile, Ducktails and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti; Hazey is an optimistic, charming gleam in a cold, miserable winter.
The cosy melodies and swooning guitar embedded within ‘Young’ draws on a Conan Mockasin feel – the lo-fi aesthetic that goes hand in hand with Hazell’s music is profound in every respect and adds to the innocence of the music. It is music that can be drawn from a transition to Brighton, it comes as no surprise that Hazell has travelled from further down the coast to arrive here as it is a sound that can be stapled to much of Brighton’s music and particularly from musicians who have moved here. This is no criticism, it is a fact that Brighton certainly has a tendency to pin a hazy, blissful and rose-tinted wash upon much of the emigrated music made here. What Hazell does well is he takes this influence and has the ability to produce something that is still marvellous. The jump and jive factor evidenced in ‘Ponder’ further proves the fun and groove in Hazell’s musicianship. Arcade Fire-esque keys run throughout the song, adding an enigmatic backdrop to much of the music, providing a platform for Hazell’s voice to dance around upon.
Hazell obviously possesses vital aspects of musicianship that are occasionally lacking with other lacklustre musicians- his close attention to detail is second to none, every sound on the EP sounds purposeful, from gushing synth overdubs to every fractured note hit on the guitar. Bass grooves are generally kept captivating and jubilant and vocals usher over the top in an endearing manner. Where ‘Summer’ occasionally falters as an EP is perhaps within the substance of some songs. Ironically, in the general vein of the dizzy, lo-fi scrub of the production, a couple of songs just wash over you without really grasping your attention in the way some of the others do. This sense of trepidation is perhaps due to a desperate search to find familiarity throughout all songs. ‘Summers’ as a song passes by in a sifting fashion, it washes through you slightly due to the restrained vocals and richness of the song. There is a lot going on with each element trying to one-up the other, unfortunately this causes a confusion and limits the clarity. However, this is not to necessarily demean the song in isolation, it is more that it does not feel as finished or polished as the likes of ‘Ponder’, ‘I Should’ or ‘Young’. ‘Heaven Knew’ falls into a similar anxious bracket as the aforementioned ‘Summers’, the experimentation with vocals is admirable however it appears to rub too much with the music occurring around it, the groove and tempo of the song appears to get a bit fraught and lost within a whirlwind of synth and vocal effects.
In summary it should not be taken that the aforementioned points define the album. They are merely small elements of disgruntlement within an other wise fantastic EP. Hazey has the ability and focus to produce enthusiastic, unrestrained psych-pop music that is as sweet and optimistic as you can imagine. The project is at best when it allows each instrument, part and melody to shine rather than attempt to drown each other out and now we sit, exceptionally excited and interested for what Hazey has to offer next.
The ‘Summers EP’ is due for release on December 14th. Cut your teeth with ‘Ponder’ below.
Words by Tom Churchill
Categories: What We Caught in Brighton