I have been in southern California for eight years now (boarding high school and college). I’ll admit that I am quite a fan of the area for the most part, but not for the reasons one may assume. For instance, I hate the beach. Maybe not hate, I can see the beauty in it from pictures, paintings, songs, and the like; but the thought of walking around in chilled water while my feet tangle themselves in slimy seaweed has yet to appeal to me. Even the concept of lying out at the beach somewhat evades me. I have no interest in getting sunburned and exposing myself to the consequence of skin cancer for the mere accolade of a tan (one I don’t need). I do however enjoy walking around Santa Monica and Venice beach, looking in the adorable sidewalk shops and such. Actually, the more I think about it, the less I hate the beach. I enjoy clear skies, blue seas, walking down the pier with ice cream. I think I may prefer the beach at night for aesthetic purposes, though it is cold as fuck. Still, all of a sudden the beach seems pretty nice.
For me, So Much For The City is much like my take on the beach. Not quite appalling but barely tolerable at first glance or listen. It is quite leisurely, not thought provoking, subtle, and even enjoyable when given a chance. Most of the album is strong, although there are some almost flailing, slower than slow songs that may have you losing interest … “Deckchairs and Cigarettes” for one. Do not succumb to these for they are few in number and are followed by songs wrapped in that glorious sandy essence held by the rest of the album. These Irish lads crafted a relaxing outing that will make some beg to be washed up onto the shores of California. In step with the escapist feeling So Much For the City throws out, the lyrics lack depth so one may concentrate on the idea that the lighter side of rock is actually quite appealing. The Thrills persuade one to revel in their sun soaked melodies, desire cloudless skies, and yearn for the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” (and boys).
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.