Hatchie's debut album is remarkable: a mature, perfectly crafted pop masterpiece that, while drawing in a range of shimmering dream pop influences, is peerless and unique.
Hatchie is the creative project of Brisbane’s Harriet Pilbeam, who announced her considerable presence on the Australian music scene last year with the EP Sugar and Spice – a release that drew the attention of the legendary Robyn Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) who remixed the track ‘Sure’.
Back in June 2017, with our fingers on the pulse as ever, Backseat Mafia reviewed her debut single ‘Try’ at a time when she had only just been signed on by management and begun to get attention of local radio stations. Now, two years later after achieving international representation and supporting luminaries from Kylie Minogue to The Vaccines, Alvvays and DMAs, Hatchie has just released her debut album ‘Keepsake’, on 21 June 2019.
Where ‘Sugar and Spice’ was grounded in guitar-drenched dream pop psychedelia, ‘Keepsake’ displays a remarkable growth, morphing into a more mainstream pop sound, maintaining Hatchie’s indie pop roots but expanding the musical palette into a far more complex and lush sound. Less jingle jangle and more sweeping strings and synth.
Hatchie has indeed produced a perfect pop package that maintains its indie credibility while being unapologetic about its ambitions for a wider audience.
Single, ‘Obsessed’ is a fitting example. It is a catchy shimmering pop classic with a New Order-like tone with its flanged melodic bass line.
Soaring choruses with a wider expanse than the desert sky quicken the pulse, while the melancholy-tinged melodies maintain an emotional depth. This is no more obviously evident than in second track ‘Without Blush’ with its catchy refrain and layered complex instrumentation: a pure dream pop shimmer.
‘Her Own Heart’ and ‘Obsessed’ shows the guitar-driven jingle jangle heartbeat still inhabits Pilbeam’s song-writing, in songs that would not be out of place in a Sundays or Cranberries setlist.
Of ‘Obsessed, Hatchie says “It’s a song about friendship. I wrote it when reflecting on my teenage tendency to cling to a new best friend for support, until I eventually convinced myself I wasn’t worthy of their friendship. It’s ultimately a celebration of meeting somebody who you look up to who helps you grow into a more adventurous person.”
And there is no lack of grit on this impeccable album. Songs like ‘Unwanted Guest’ show that Hatchie’s DNA is founded in thumping shoegaze muscularity.
‘Stay’ is Hatchie at her most commercial: “At first I thought I could never put that on my album—it felt too dancey and pop, and I figured it could really shine on someone else’s record,” she says. “But then I realized: I’m the one dictating what my sound is; what I put on my album is up to me.”
Indeed, the album ranges from Ibiza-perfect dance anthems such as this to driving indie acoustic-based revries such as ‘Kiss the Stars’.
Pilbeam’s voice is quite frankly gorgeous throughout this album. Soft, dreamy, expressive and wistful: a perfect foil for the songs, infused with melody and romance evoking joy, sorrow and yearning.
Hatchie’s debut album is remarkable: a mature, perfectly crafted pop masterpiece that, while drawing in a range of shimmering dream pop influences, is peerless and unique.
Of the title, ‘Keepsake’, Hatchie says: “I’m not much of a nostalgic person when it comes to memories, but I do have a tendency to hold on to certain things, like tickets from the first time I went someplace on holiday. It made sense to me to call the record that, at a time when I’m going to probably end up with a lot of keepsakes—and in a way, this whole album is almost like a keepsake in itself.”
You can get the album now through all the usual sources.
Hatchie has been touring extensively this year. You can catch her in Northern America in September and Australia in October – full details and tickets here.