By: Contributing Writer, Saint Paul’s junior Talon Boudreaux
I have listened to many albums that are considered to be masterpieces: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Nevermind, The Dark Side of the Moon, Ready to Die, etc. This praise is not unwarranted, as these albums are some of my favorites of all time.
However, out of all the albums I’ve ever listened to, the indie album Hawaii: Part II takes the spot as the most unique and artistic one.
Now, you’re probably wondering , “What is Hawaii: Part II?”, and I wouldn’t blame you. Most, if not all, students and faculty members here at Saint Paul’s have most likely never even heard of this album before let alone a song from it.
To summarize, Hawaii: Part II is a worldwide indie album created by ミラクルミュージカル aka Miracle Musical, a music project created by Joe Hawley, Ross Federman, and Bora Karaca (along with other music artists). It was released on December 12th, 2012, at 12:12:12 AM and has since gained further popularity thanks to its newfound recognition online in recent years.
The inspiration for the album came from an experience Joe Hawley had when he went on a family vacation to Hawaii. Hawley described this story in a promotional interview for the album. “When our family went to Hawaii in the summer of 1997, I heard this music in my mind and I knew I had to make it at some point.” Besides that, not much else is known about the inspiration behind the album except for a few elements that contribute to its themes.
So, you may be wondering now, “what makes Hawaii: Part II so unique from other albums?” Well, it comes down to a multitude of factors including not only the music but also its many themes and interpretive narrative that some listeners may pick up on.
When it comes to the music of the album, it’s very different from what one might hear and expect. In fact, the album switches genres multiple times including pop, rap, and ballad to name a few. Plus, each song has its own tone and theme to it that makes it different and unique from the last. All of this could be seen as overwhelming and unnecessary to a newer listener, and to some extent you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Just like other albums of this kind , for example Yeezus by Kanye West, it grows on you overtime, and at a certain point you’ll start to appreciate its complex structure and themes as you relisten to it more-and-more.
However, despite its “uniqueness”, do the songs themselves hold up on their own? Yes, absolutely!
From start to finish, every single song on here is a banger! Songs such as “Isle unto Thyself ” have beautiful singing reminiscent of singers from the 1950s like Frank Sinatra and are further enhanced by the wondrous atmosphere the song provides. Others like “White Ball” give a sense of comfort and romance with the use of violins and the singing of lovers. Additionally, songs like “Stranded Lullaby” provide the feeling of loneliness and despair due to the slower playing time and overall mood. Though these are just a few examples, it is worth giving a try to all these tracks even if they’re not your preferred genre.
Out of all the songs, I’d have to pick “The Mind Electric” as my favorite one. This song is the best on the album because of how it portrays insanity in a musical matter without sacrificing enjoyment. The dissonance of the piano, the reversed opening, and the distorted vocals and beats contribute to a darker tone of the album that will leave you with chills. Just like the songs before and after, it can be interpreted in many different ways but what makes this one different is that it tells a “clearer story”, which is about (at least according to my interpretation) a young man who pleads insanity for a crime he may or may not have committed, and he ends up going through electric therapy but ends up becoming insane as a result. While it may not be for everyone, this is still worth considering as one of the best tracks on the album.
Speaking of story, let’s talk about the narrative and themes of the album. As I’ve stated countless times before, the narrative is supposed to be interpretive because of the many themes present in the album. That isn’t to say that there is no “true” narrative, but rather the songs are presented in a way that helps the listener visualize what’s going on but not get the full picture just yet.
The themes help with getting a better understanding of the story. There are many themes of outer space, tropical paradise, parallel universes, love, death, etc. in this album that can be used to help determine your own view of what’s going on.
Overall, this is an album that you should definitely check out if you are into albums of this nature, or if you just wanna try something new. It isn’t an album that is meant for everyone, as some people may be turned away from the aspects that I consider to be good for it. However, if you give it a chance as I did, then it could become your next favorite album of all time.