Ladies and Gentlemen, it is official. I will never be able to listen to an album the same way again. I used to be somewhat excited and intrigued when placing a disc, one I am to review, in my CD player. Anxious slightly if I had never heard the band before, but like any normal, or not so normal, music fan, I would pray for brilliance but would settle for mediocrity. Still, I hoped for at least an average performance. When I initially looked at the disc artwork for Peaches’ latest record, I was slightly disturbed. Being the open-minded person I have convinced myself I am, I avoided making any judgments based on the art. Yet I must admit throwing out the distinctly negative emotions the artwork evoked was an EXTREMELY difficult thing to do. While I was not completely successful I was able to push aside much of my discontent.
As the album began I was somewhat shocked to hear what sounded like an exact attempt to cover Joan Jett’s, “Bad Reputation”. Quite soon after I made this assumption I was proved oh so wrong. The classic, yet over-used song was abruptly interrupted by the most horrid thing I had ever heard, and as the first two words of the line spat out, “I don’t…” I was appalled. But strangely enough, after the line finished I was rather amused. The song began with, “I don’t give a fuuuuck” superimposed over the Joan Jett cover (I assume it was a cover it may have been the original in the background). I laughed. I really did. My laughter subsided as this line was repeated over and over. Eventually the vocals shift to, “I don’t give a shiiiitt.” I was left confused and speechless. It took me some time to realize that this was no fucking joke. This was a seriously misguided attempt at raucous rebellion. A whole song was made with these two lines, and the yelling of the lyrics was far from alluring. There are some female singers who can yell lyrics and still make them sound appealing. I am even envious of their ability to scream so well. Peaches is NOT one of these in my humble (and infallible) opinion.
Being the hopeful person I am I was unnecessarily optimistic about the next song. Iggy Pop was a guest vocalist and I was determined to find what it was about this Peaches that led him to lend his legendary antics (mostly name, in this case) to this record. So I played the next song expecting the first song to be some sort of fluke. Thirty seconds into the song and I realized that the first song was no fluke and this album’s outcome was (unfortunately) as intended. I was pretty set on my view that the instrumental aspect and vocals were terrible but I thought that maybe the lyrics would boast a few redeeming qualities. One may think that I would have learned from the lyrics in the first song but alas, I did not. So I listened intently to “I U She”, trying to block out the actual sounds as much as possible. The lyrics were as horrid as the first track, but I insisted on listening, for Peaches sake and for Iggy’s. Sadly, this had to have been the most miserable way to spend my time.
I came to these opinions weeks and weeks before I read that Peaches had been a guest vocalist on Pink’s new album. This review is long enough so I won’t drag you into my opinion on that matter. Though I will say this: Thanks to Fatherfucker, I will never be able to regain the intrigue I once had when preparing to listen to an album of an unfamiliar band. I see it nowadays. It takes me two days at least to get over the initial thoughts of potential horror the disc may contain. Quite frankly, I don’t “give a fuck” or “give a shit” what the hell message or attempt at deconstructing gender roles and expectations Peaches was trying to throw out or accomplish. We are worse off for having this album circulating among us. I know for sure I am worse off for having listened to it, as are the bands whose records I must review with my enhanced initial bout of skepticism.
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.