There is a passage in a book I’m reading that proclaims that those who carry their music as emotionally as the hearts on their sleeve tend to find stable relationships hard going. The emotional spectrum they say, is too polarizing to remain somewhere in the middle- you’re either all in, or all out. Taking many pages from Lifetime’s Hello Bastards, Saves the Day’s Can’t Slow Down and the Get Up Kids Four Minute Mile, Keep It To Yourself is the kind of record you cannot go in to half-hearted.
Boston, Mass, with its cold streets and winter nights, is remarkable inspiration fitting for the topical ground covered. From the opening salvo of “Dear Anyone” to the re-recorded “Please, Head North”, Transit proudly wears their intentions with great urgency. It’s melodic and accessible, but with out the plastic buoyancy that listeners often associate with the term “pop punk”. Before you get visions of The Wonder Years and more sugary filling, Transit owe their lineage to the grittier, more abrupt type of music played well by the aforementioned Lifetime and early Get Up Kids; plenty of self-reflection cut with unconventional song structures and melodies. “Hope This Finds You Well” and “A Living Diary” are every bit listenable as they are directly affecting. It’s like when you listen to “Anne Arbour”, “Ostrichsized” and “Bobby Truck Tricks,” you can pick up the positive musical qualities that make these songs appealing, but there is an underlining intangibility to it that immediately separates it from an All Time Low song or a Simple Plan effort.
Ultimately, it is the intangibles that make Transit great- a sense of urgency perhaps? A better understanding of how to make an emotional song without it being sappy or trite? It all permeates through Keep It To Yourself leaving it with a more long term appeal. On the flipside, it isn’t quite as immediate as their Stay Home EP- there is this one lacking, nagging issue with Keep It To Yourself that I wrestled with for a few listens. I only realized that it was missing the song “Stay Home”, which by far is still the band’s best song to date. The full length seems to waver a little towards the end- not quite running out of steam, but certainly not as eventful as the first half (until the glorious closer, “Love ___”, asking of all things, “why is the world so sad?”).
Keep It To Yourself is miles ahead of their debut This Will Not Define Us, and only a few years removed. Rarely do songs about pain and heartache come across as this uplifting. These anthems will ring long after the last heart is broken.
(Run For Cover 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.