This album was on the brink of being overplayed even before the CD was released, but let’s give it a go shall we? Imagine a band that comes out and puts the words dance/rock into every little hipster’s mouth. Now imagine the millions of carbon copy clones that arise after this band gains popularity (think everyone from Hoobastank to Incubus). Now imagine a group that manages to take the best parts of the popular bands and mixes them with their own infectious sound; you have this month’s latest musical obsession, The Killers. The lads from Las Vegas have released an album which brings dance to the hipsters, joy to the indie snobs, and possibly a summer hit for the masses.
The singles, “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside,” are guaranteed to bring fans in from whatever indie rock sub genre. “Somebody Told Me” may have the most confusing lyrics I’ve yet to hear but the sheer addicting quality of the music and melody hooked me at the first listen. Let me paint a little picture of me listening to this song:
The Killers: “It’s not confidential / I’ve got potential / for rushing, a-rushing around”
Me: “Huh? … What the? … Meh! … Let’s dance!”
This song caused me to forgo all of my insane love of lyrics and made me dance around like some spastic hippie. “Mr. Brightside” opens with an instantly infectious guitar riff which leads us towards the equally addicting vocal melody. The lyrics have a less than sunny outlook as they describe a jealous lover’s thoughts on what their partner might be doing. “Now they’re going to bed and my stomach is sick / And it’s all in my head / but she’s touching his chest now” is just a sample of the lyrics that detail how despite these thoughts and their probable truth the narrator will still show a happy, “bright” demeanor while on the inside “it’s killing me.”
One song that didn’t really click with me until recently is the song “On Top.” I didn’t really give it a chance but when I actually did, it became one of my preferred songs of the album. It begins with a little synthesizer because, well, what would a dance/rock record be without some synthesizer? The vocals then proceed to maintain a certain fun tension as the collective guitar, bass, and drum work paints this nightlife scene. The chorus jumps in with lush riffs and once again the lyrics come into the limelight. “It’s just a shimmy and a shake / uh huh / I can’t fake / We’re on top” brought another one of those “What..?” moments to me but I found myself embracing them and soon enough I found that they had become some of my favorite lyrics of the entire release.
“Believe Me Natalie” made me question everything I’ve come to know about myself. This song evoked sadness from my danced filled body and I can’t truly explain why. The lyrics play a big part with lines like, “Remember the art of roses lined up on your couch / Forget what they said in SoHo” and “God help me somehow / There’s no time for survival,” but I think the defining element of the track is the smooth, mournful music. Even in the beginning it seemed to be different in comparison to the rest of the material. It held a darker, less upbeat tone while all the others boast some sort of optimistic quality.
If it were up to me, the eleven songs of Hot Fuss would qualify as little three to five minute drugs. Even after hearing the entire album day after day, I still find myself coming back for more. I could try to describe them as a more rock influenced Franz Ferdinand but that wouldn’t do any justice to their infectious sound. The Killers have shaped and molded the genre of dance/rock to a most excellent form.
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.