Back when we spoke to Hayley Williams in 2005, we couldn’t possibly imagine the massive scope in which her band’s music now encompasses. It never hurts publicity to be on the soundtrack to a hit cultural phenomenon, and it only bolsters your credibility when your tours and records are both received with much affection. Yet Paramore, and Williams in particular, never seemed to let go of their humble selves- whether it is during MTV interviews, in front of thousands of people, or plastered across the internet- it all comes across with a genuine tether.
I was rather middle ground with Riot!, but if anything, their latest form of maturation without becoming passe has done plenty to win over even the most cynical of critics. It’s all very neatly done of course, “Ignorance” is run-of-the-mill, while “Brick By Boring Brick” lives up to its namesake, but when they venture off into acoustic territory (simple but stated “Misguided Ghosts”) and slightly more angular rock (“Playing God” and “Where The Lines Overlap”) that they well and truly shine. And like I said, it’s all very genuine and pretension-free. Capped off by the stunningly impressive ballad “All I Wanted”, brand new eyes is perfect fodder for the Twilight generation, and one that cements Paramore (and most notably their frontwoman) as significant tastemakers for years to come.
(Fueled By Ramen / Atlantic Records)
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.