Hikes – Mahal Kita

There’s an interesting combination of sounds in the latest album of Austin, TX’s Hikes. Mahal Kita, is filled with wonder and awe. They’ve managed to infuse post-rock with their folk songwriting style, creating an organic and vivid atmosphere. Despite its technicality, everything feels grounded and natural. Vocalist Nay Wilkins’ gentle voice is captivating, the guitar work is bright and surreal but not overbearing, each element is carefully placed to serve the song’s emotional core. Within its 9 tracks you’ll find yourself reconnecting with nature, remembering old friends and taking a stroll through the woods.

The opener “been thinkin’” is a colorful daydream. The band’s masterful weaving of soft and loud is first seen here. The drums start off slow, intensifying ever so slightly before peaking at the last chorus. The guitars evoke a great deal of restraint and discipline, pacing through and never getting in the way. Nay softly sings about separation, a carousel of nostalgia sweeps through with every hushed lyric. 

“Extra mile” is a sweeping epic. It starts with an urgent energy, restless to get to the next destination. A playful arrangement that will take you to a road trip spanning the country highways. It ends on a quieter note, a soaring conclusion, taking you to the skies in a slow and dreamy guitar sequence. 

The title track “mahal kita” is the whole album in its essence. A dynamic song that goes through phases of calm and chaos, like the ebb and flow of a sea through each season. Taken from the Tagalog phrase that means “I love you”, it covers love in its ending phases, from a lonely spark of missing someone, it develops to a rumbling, turbulent breakdown. 

Graceful violins will stir your emotions in “graying”. Its narrator watches his father suffer through an illness. The classical influence evokes the feeling of flickering memories in sepia toned photographs. It ends with a bittersweet tear-jerker : “Do you remember when you told me’ / I could be anything I want to? / I wanted to be you.”

  “Empathy” is the heaviest track in the album. Nay’s vocals adapts a more sarcastic, spiteful tone. The subtlety of the preceding tracks are now gone, replaced with a rugged and frustrated mood. All pent up emotions are poured into this three minute outburst.

The closer “beauty again” blossoms with bright and flowery guitar lines. Rays of sunshine seep through the clouds as each riff interweaves with its hook: “Will I find beauty again / in this life?”. And with a song that’s so uplifting — there shouldn’t be a doubt in our minds — we only need to press repeat.

Hikes’ latest offering is a display of discipline and restraint. Where other artists might use their technical prowess in every turn to flex their techniques, they have instead carefully used these tools along with their musicality. Creating an experience that everyone can empathize with without knowing the technicalities involved. Mahal Kita is nothing short of an expression of love.

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