Will the new Edwyn Costello please stand up?
It's a widely known fact that irony is lost on Americans. It's probably got something to do with all the steroids they pump into their burger meat, and so Paul Hawkins should never, never decide to tour there. They just wouldn't get him. In fact, they'd wrestle him to the ground at the airport the very second his plane landed, clamp on the leg irons and the straightjacket and then chuck him back on the tub with instructions to "cheer the fuck up, you fucking whining fucking limey fuck, you" or something...well, if the all security staff at all U.S. airports are Joe Pesci anyhow...
You see Paul Hawkins might sound like he's a truly miserable git, but he's also got a sense of humour. He knows how to laugh at himself - and you - especially if you take him or your own life too seriously. Confused?
Some music critics have compared Paul Hawkins to Nick Cave and Tom Waits, probably because he writes miserable songs and sings them in a miserable way. They're wrong.
Cave is just far too eccentric (and egocentric these days) to be truly funny and Waits has never fully recovered from getting married and deciding that smashing a banjo against a tree whilst hitting a drum filled with jam tarts and lime pickle with a freshly raped otter constitutes a great song. How beautiful love is. In fact, Hawkins is far closer to Edwyn Collins and Elvis Costello than one might think. Why?
All three have great pop sensibilities, all three are talented lyricists, all three completely understand and appreciate irony and satire, and all three, when it's appropriate, can also be really really miserable. (Those of you thinking that Morrissey should be included, get out - because as good as he once was, he never grew up. The adolescent, maudlin shit he's been squirting out of late sounds like something even McFly would consider too puerile to bother with. 'Kiss Me' off 'You Are the Quarry'?! Christ, that guy really needs to get laid.) All three can also synthesise these components into a potent, smoking elixir of pain, regret, depression and black comedy.
'Don't Blind Me with Science' is a song about a shy and awkward guy trying to get with a girl and really messing it up. Imagine how the teenage diary of Lofty from Eastenders or Ashley from Coronation Street might read if Charles Bukowski had edited it and you're in the right ballpark; irony by way of abject misery - or chocolate salty balls if you must.
Hawkins's voice sounds as raucous and tuneless as ever (and in the context of this song, that's a good thing) and the pounding, relentless, thick-as-treacle guitar-heavy accompaniment hammers the point home with all the subtlety of a Westlife key change. It's really quite wonderful.
To paraphrase the record executive from the old Kit Kat advert that used to get shown during 'Yellowthread Street' back in the early nineties: Paul Hawkins can't sing, can't play and looks awful...he'll go a long way...