Described as “nine tracks of adventurous and alluring folktronica” by Consequence of Sound, Hayden Calnin’s sophomore album Cut Love Pt. 2 is music that seems to have its own heartbeat. The album boasts a captivating sound which melts into Calnin’s gorgeous vocals. As soon as I heard it, I thought of M83, but Bon Iver and Beach House were other comparisons made by CoS.
Cut Love Pt. 2 follows swiftly on from Cut Love Pt. 1 which was released a mere two months before. Both albums have a similar tone, but Pt. 2 has a much bigger sound, something which Calnin also admits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the follow-up is better, only that the songs from Pt. 1 are more subdued. The dark, snowy landscape scene present on both album covers literally fit together to make something bigger and more picturesque, something would could also be applied to the albums’ music.
“Continuing on from ‘Cut Love Pt. 1’, ‘Cut Love Pt. 2’ is an exploration into a very confusing time of my life where I was feeling a little lost and off the rails”, Calnin revealed to CoS. “We’ve all been there at some point so I think much of the sentiment behind the album is something a lot of people will find relatable”. The lyrics and the sound arrangement adhere to this.
Speaking of lyrics, the ones in second song “White Night” seemed to find a place in my heart, more so than the others: “And now I’m living on the edge of the city / Taking girls home who I think are pretty / I’m not good at being alone / I’m not good at being alone”. That feeling of craving more from people, mixed with that of hopelessness is familiar and upsetting. It reminds me of Sam Smith’s “Drowning Shadows”, which Smith described as the “saddest song I’ve ever written”.
“Dinosaur Stampede” has hopeless lyrics which transform into hopeful; “All I trust is what I’m told / The liars find a way” sings a gullible Calnin, which soon leads to: “Then you left, and I was f****d / But I’m better off now / Then I found a real love / I guess I got there somehow”.
Contrary to the title, the song is gentle and dreamy, yet comes with a stampede-like drumbeat, a crescendo which loudly carries us to the end of the song before calming down again. The final lyrics in this song frustrate me because I can’t understand a certain word, and that word could determine whether the song is a happy or sad ending! Either way, it’s a beautiful tune with a piano that really helps to make it sparkle.
I think that this kind of album sounds best through earphones, but the song that sounds distinctly better with earphones in is “Birthday Hips”. There are many sounds to pick up on from about a minute and forty-five seconds in. Unfortunately, the lyrics are rather hard to hear on this one but, as with the rest of the album, the music is capable of providing enough of an emotive, powerful atmosphere by itself.
Calnin managed to include a cover in this collection: “Hound Dog”, the song by Big Mama Thornton which was popularised by Elvis Presley. The finger-clicking, empowering tone in the song changes into one that would feature on a playlist of down-trodden break-up songs. It’s generally slower, more dragged out, and sort of reminds me of the music in Coldplay’s “Fix You”, including the louder, up-tempo section towards the end of both songs.
I love when emotions play a key role in music, something which Calnin does well. Each song makes me feel like I’m lying, unmoving in a huge expanse of water; it’s very peaceful and I just want to be on my own. I’ll swim back to shore at some point, but not until I’ve closed my eyes and gotten in touch with my feelings.
Cut Love Pt. 2, released on May 13, can be purchased on iTunes here. As I mentioned previously, there are only nine tracks in total which amount to thirty-eight minutes. Give it a quick listen before bed or when you just need some time to chill out, it’ll do wonders!
Words by Shanade McConney