Much like the Cobra Starships and the 3OH!3s of the world, Boys Like Girls don’t shy away from the massively accessible and commercially viable dance elements of rock music. While the aforementioned tend to build on a strong dance-influenced foundation, BLG tend to be a rock band with disco swagger and pop gloss. Lead-off single “Love Drunk” is great- like “The Great Escape” and “Hero/Heroine” from their 2006 self-titled album, it’s a great hook, and a nutshell demonstration of their appeal. Songs like “Heart Heart Heartbreak” and “She’s Got a Boyfriend Now” spit the same vibe, and aren’t bad by definition, but it’s what comes after that tends to be bland at best. Taylor Swift tags along in “Two Is Better Than One”, a completely forgettable mid-tempo ballad Disney would have a tough time considering.
The rest of Love Drunk is of the same ilk. Nothing really reaches the same infectious pull as the title track and it lacks the pop pull of 2006’s Boys Like Girls. But give it to them for being gloriously superficial. It’s about as deep as a wading pool, and suffers because the album, by default, has to have more than a few songs (“Real Thing”, bad electro and all, is absolutely atrocious), but at least it all looks pretty. BLG are a great iTunes band- just pick and choose what’s worth it- otherwise, All-American Rejects do all of this much better.
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.