There’s something meta about Hyena where it is totally self-aware, but completely unafraid. Havadine Stone has always blurred the lines between the mundane and the intimate, finding that sweet spot where there’s a deep connection made by showing you (or more accurately, letting you hear) the parts we don’t think anyone cares about.
When Stone whispers and hums on the opening piece, “Intro Hyena,” it’s a running monologue in your head and the ways we try to cope. The hums grow into a sort of heavy-eyed resignation where the idea of ‘it gets better’ seems further and further away. Eventually the spaces between the notes stretch out while hope and daylight both fade into oblivion. Windows are open into a world where hiding is a chore that’s not worth the energy. The lights are off as “Synthetic Cricket Sounds and Hospital” hiss into existence, the repetition forcing self-reflection and longing for peace and quiet. Throughout, Stone’s touch is gentle, never pushing too far or too fast.
For the second half of Hyena, piano lamentations take center stage. “Play with a Bird in Aarhus (Hail on the Roof or Popcorn)” is hollow and detached, like a phantom limb reminding you what was lost at the worst possible moment. Her playing is beautiful, subdued. When the hail on the roof (or popcorn – who knows!), it’s a cleansing storm, cauterizing the wound and helping numb and suppress the memories. It bleeds into “Hold It In,” and in the looping minor chords, I am overtaken. I am done. Havadine Stone pulls all the right strings, combining ordinary sounds and comforting landscapes into something that is neither of those things. Beauty can be heartbreak; it can be the memory of a familiar touch from an intimate partner that’s no longer with you or the fluorescent lights in the blackness at 2 AM. But it’s there, in the everyday, and Hyena quietly shouts that against the void. What an absolutely incredible album.