The Last Mixed Tape reviews Cause & Effect, the debut studio album from Havvk.
Some albums bristle with intensity. Not necessarily one born out of dynamic furor but instead from an in-built mood that emanates from the frustration and fury that compelled the record into being. This is the case with Havvk’s debut offering Cause & Effect.
As the title would suggest, Cause & Effect is a reactionary album that stands in direct response to oppressive and polarizing issues that fuel the lyrics throughout. In this way Havvk sound is a cathartic one, as songs like the fuzzing propellant alt-rock of ‘Shifting Shape’ (a song that tackles gender assumptions) and slow-burn push and pull of ‘Birds On A Wire’ convey these thematic elements in contrasting ways, through vocals that dominate the foreground, angular guitar work and statement making drum beats. Everything about Cause & Effect looks to make the listener sit up and pay attention.
This symbiotic thread between the titular cause and effect, is also in-built in the record’s running order. An album of two halves, Havvk cut Cause & Effect down the middle. With the initial six tracks like the turbulent ‘The Factory’ conveying an immediacy to them while the final five songs like serene driving sound of ‘Operate’ broods with a deeper sound, working to mirror the overt and insidious way oppression can take hold and effect those in its grasp.
But it is with ‘Always The Same’ that Havvk and Cause & Effect really stand-out. A short sharp shock of a track, ‘Always The Same’ takes aim at toxic masculinity with a laser focused vocal that conveys all the fury and frustration that forms the undercurrent of Cause & Effect and brings it to the fore against a backdrop of jolting guitars and drum beats. Making for a striking high-water mark of the album itself that encapsulates the mood and tone of the piece in under four minutes.
Cause & Effect is a compelling thematic piece working in moods and intensity throughout. With this debut Havvk take their core alt-rock sound a meld it with meaning, relevance and importance. There’s a story Factory Record’s owner Tony Wilson would tell in reference to the first time he saw Joy Division, saying that compared to all the other acts he saw that night the post-punk band were the only ones that “needed to be there” instead of just “wanting to be there”. In the same way, Cause & Effect was is an album that needed to be made.
Cause & Effect by Havvk is due out on Friday, November 22nd via Veta Records.