When things unravel, you search for a way to make sense of the countless thoughts that cloud your mind. There is a fetching quote from a set of lyrics I came across recently that I think is the most accurate summation of this notion. It ends with “So when I finally close my eyes / I’ll find my self control”. These words are the one tangible thing that connects my understanding of the aural connectivity between Arrows’ Try and Stay Upright with the so-called real world.
It makes sense because Try and Stay Upright is fuelled by a sense of loss, and pain, and a lot of questions. Arrows are Australia’s poets of melancholia, taking cues from the likes of the Gloria Record and Mineral, the aching riffs and slow building melodies come down in crashing waves of jilted couplets and serious Midwestern emo/indie introspection. In “Calling Your Sponsor”, vocalist Anthony Morgan ends the alcohol-fuelled letter of loves lost with the piercing kind of heartfelt bitterness;
“Why don’t I feel myself when I’m along through the weeknights or fucking somebody else / I don’t know I guess it’s not your place to say anymore, anyway”
It is an uncontrollable emotion at times, and through the six tracks, Morgan is often trying to make sense of the swirling ideas in his head. He writes about past love that segues into the piano-driven reflection of the title track, about being drunk outside a show before the lyrics swerve into the almost scribbled down words; “so I went for a walk.” Almost as if he needed to break away from the path in which the words and music were taking his thoughts.
“Always With the Leaving” is the album’s grand centrepiece; a monstrous 6+ minute epic that traverses self-doubt, anger, and recovery with a beautiful sense of melodic sadness. There is also a poignant moment in the track; the best, most understated manner in which explains the very existence of all these songs;
“You ask ‘why you gotta write these songs about me?’ / I don’t, you write them for me / I just add the melody”
Try and Stay Upright is a remarkable attempt at making sense of the unravelling. The words are frenzied but the music is serene. We do not know the stories behind the words, and we cannot relate to them on the level in which they do because they are an honest reflection of the moments that inspired them. It is an odd juxtaposition but it is music in its truest form; personal. The best we can do is close our eyes and listen.
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.