You know, it’s a tough task to review a record in this day and age that is one of those “career spanning, greatest hits” type sets. Obviously, the artist is at least somewhat popular (in this case—quite popular) enough to warrant it a worthwhile investment to even do by the label. Second, it basically comes down to if you like the artist to begin with. If it’s nothing more than older tunes from older releases, why not save twenty bucks, and just burn your own mix from your fave file sharing program, or rip what you want from older albums? If you’re bringing no new songs to the mix, it’s almost a naught effort in today’s iTunes generation of mix-burning and options.
It’s taken long enough, but indie-pop-mainstream-grrl music wonder Alanis Morissette has finally put out a greatest hits-ish collection. Not exactly landing on just the “greatest hits” side of the spectrum, The Collection includes some deeper cuts, on top of all the songs you’ve surely already heard played to death on modern pop radio. I consider myself a moderate fan of her work, being able to remember back when “Ironic” was a somewhat edgy tune to hear on mainstream radio. So, is it all worth it?
The answer is yes, and no. If you’re new to Alanis Morissette, I would greatly recommend this album as a starter piece. Spanning her full career (but not in chronological order), and including a couple of great, overlooked deeper cuts—The Collection makes a fantastic introduction into the works of Morissette. Including the hits “Ironic,” “Head Over Feet,” “You Learn,” “You Oughta Know,” “Uninvited,” “Thank You,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Hands Clean;” among others. As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of the tunes come from Morissette’s most known release: Jagged Little Pill, which has sold, like, a bazillion copies. This makes sense, as almost all of her hit songs originated from that release.
Some of the better, deeper cuts are “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love),” which is a jaunty little bouncy piano piece that you can’t help but bob your head to. Also listed is “Mercy,” “Still,” and “Crazy.” Obviously, if you’re already a fan of Morissette’s, you probably have everything that can be found here. Nothing new is brought to the table, so you’d be just as well off to toss some of your favorite tunes on a burn and be done with it.
But, if you’re new to the genre, and looking to take a foray into the angrier side of girl singers; you could do much, much worse than this album. The Collection is about as strong a hits release as you’re likely to find by anyone out there. I cautiously recommend it.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.