Album Review: Maya Hawke “Chaos Angel”

A pale blue sky with soft clouds and red text that reads: "Album review - Chaos Angel - Maya Hawke" with red lipstick kiss marks in the top left and bottom right corner.
Graphics by Rebecca Calvar

By Ella Mastroianni, Blog Assistant

Artist: Maya Hawke

Album: Chaos Angel

Favorite Songs: “Hang in there,” “Black Ice,” “Dark” and “Promise”

For Fans Of: Adrianne Lenker, Lomelda, Slow Pulp and Runnner


Contrary to the title, there’s not too much chaos on Maya Hawke’s third album Chaos Angel. Actually, as an entire work, it is incredibly functional and succinct, with little room to veer off track. This album has the least amount of songs on any Hawke album yet, and its 10 tracks do a job not every artist can accomplish in so little time. As Hawke carries the listener through vulnerable stories, it’s hard not to identify with at least one track, especially with the way Hawke and her collaborators have packaged the content. She’s got something for everyone, the insomniacs, the tender-hearted, the big thinkers… 

Many know Maya Hawke not for her music, but for her acting work. She has been, most notably, in Stranger Things Season 3 and 4, Asteroid City, and even the upcoming Inside Out 2. Her parents' names — Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke — speak for themselves, but the 25-year-old’s songs, arguably, speak even louder. With her two previous album releases, 2020’s Blush and 2022’s MOSS, Hawke has made a home in the indie=folk genre and has proved over and over that she is an artist of her own making. 



This album is not only a makeup of a current 25-year-old Hawke, but also of all the versions of herself before this moment. The album's first song, “Black Ice,” leads with a voice memo of what Hawke told an interviewer was a “Crazy physic session” she had as a kid. “You become the angel in human form,” the psychic says. “Does that make sense when we put it that way?” A young Hawke responds, “Yeah,” before the voice memo concludes and Hawke's vocals alongside a simple brush-played drumbeat pull listeners into the present. 

Chaos Angel contains a rhythm to it, found in the soft voice and lyricism of Hawke and the light-as-air production by Christian Lee Hutson. It amplifies the formula that has worked so well for Hawke on her past albums. Aiding to the rhythmic feel, Chaos Angel is intrinsically led by its mantras.

Out of the gate, then, “Black Ice” sets the stage for what listeners can expect during the 10-track album. Its delicate vocals and gentle instrumentals only enhance Hawke’s natural storytelling ability. And the track closes with its first mantra, “Give up, be loved,” sung by people personally close to Hawke. As a listener, the various voices have a personal quality, regardless of them being unfamiliar to the listener. 

The album is bookended by mantras. In the final track — the album’s namesake “Chaos Angel” — “I want you, I love you, I promise I'm sorry” are the lyrics Hawke leaves listeners with. It is a satisfying setup, as “Chaos Angel” and “Black Ice” are two sides of the same coin, their mantras weaving into one another seamlessly. The imagery of a balloon, introduced in “Black Ice,” returns as well. The parallels help emphasize the growth depicted from the album's start to its finish. The uncertainty in “Black Ice” has grown to a certainty by the end of the album, and it's sort of sweet to think that the narrator did give up and be loved.



Chaos Angel is undeniably atmospheric, and even those who aren’t avid folk listeners can find pockets where this album would complement their environment. Chaos Angel has the potential to rock listeners to sleep or alternately, could be part of an early morning soundtrack while doing something like making breakfast or making the bed. It’s hard not to be captivated by poetic lyrics such as “I brought poppy seeds to a gunfight,” “Your to-do list is an epic poem,” and “We've only the moon left to outsmart.” 

“Dark,” was the second single released for this record, and it is a pillar which Chaos Angel rests upon. Hawke’s voice sounds as though she just woke up or stopped crying, and it is accompanied by a warm flutter of fingerpicking on the guitar. This song has a beautiful sound, but on a closer look, the lyrics relate to the experience of insomnia, with the chorus telling the experience of trying to wait the night out, “But we cannot want our way out of the dark,” Hawke confesses. Unlike Hawke’s last album, MOSS, Chaos Angel experiments with less vocal layering which is especially noticeable in this song. Hawke’s voice is clear, undistorted, and unmistakably close to the listener. This choice makes this song and album altogether have an authentic and intimate feel. Hawke’s music both soothes and provokes, and “Dark,” is a lullaby that successfully does both. 



Hawke’s third album is a spoonful of sugar to close out this spring, and she truly outdid herself with this one. Even if you haven’t fallen in love with Maya Hawke’s on-screen characters, allow Hawke off-screen to speak directly to you with this highly-curated, remarkably purposeful album. Hawke’s music is a poem brought to life, and somewhere in these 10 songs, there is bound to be a stanza for everyone.

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