Hatchie: Giving the World Away Album Review

Harriette Pilbeam, who records as Hatchie, wants to clarify something: she writes more than just love songs. Don’t be fooled by the Aussie dream-pop artist’s past work, which drifted in a vaporous haze of guitar and synths and leaned on a revolving door of lyrical cliches – embracing the stars, staying true to his heart, etc The pandemic has caused Pilbeam to confront long-buried anxieties and insecurities, a process that has left her wondering about her future in music. His second full album, give the world, explores these afflictions with a demanding, if not weighty touch, transforming its once sparkling shoegaze into a more cheeky and ambitious sound.

With help from Dan Nigro (Olivia Rodrigo, Caroline Polachek), Jorge Elbrecht (Sky Ferreira, Japanese Breakfast) and Beach House drummer James Barone, give the world is a maze of fuzz and reverb, chugging guitars, ethereal synths and delightfully eerie percussion. The album’s strongest moments balance restraint and elation, like on “This Enchanted,” which takes house piano and slick bass and turns it into a shoegaze anthem, its chorus drowning in distorted guitar and drums. Another standout, “Quicksand,” begins with a low guitar riff that explodes into an exuberant electro-pop hook. To his favorite, give the world locates the boundary between noise and melody, carving out a pop core amid seemingly structureless arrangements.

The songwriting here is a marked improvement on Hatchie’s earlier projects and convincingly examines some of the most disorienting challenges of early adulthood: addiction issues, fear of commitment, pain to see but not to be seen. “Quicksand” offers a devastating insight into the loss of hope and optimism that comes with aging: “I used to think it was something I could die for / Hate to admit I don’t was never sure.” The dizzying innocence of Pilbeam’s previous work feels like a distant dream; she’s approaching her thirties, looking at life with a more discerning eye, looking for meaning beyond belief in soul mates and fate.

From time to time, the deluge of instrumentation rattles. “Twin” wanders through sleepy melodies with no release, while the album’s title track remains static from start to finish. The production is impressive, but it is also a lot, and Pilbeam’s voice can get lost in spacious settings. And though the emotions are sophisticated, the lyrics lean toward on-the-nose observations that ease the tension: “Lost sight of who I’m meant to be/But in the chaos I can see I’m not me,” sings- she. on “The Key”. The album hits hardest when Pilbeam lets the weight of its angst feel, but often it opts for a definitive tone that leaves little to the imagination.

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