Brisbane-born Hatchie (real name Harriette Pilbeam) appeared a few years ago with a perfectly-realised sound. On last summer’s flawless Sugar & Spice EP, she melded shoegaze atmospherics against an illuminating backdrop of summer-y guitars, with electronic undercurrents. She achieved this aesthetic more successfully than anyone since the greatly missed School of Seven Bells. After a handful of excellent singles, Hatchie releases her first full length, Keepsake, and it’s 2019’s most exquisite debut.
Hatchie’s music has a relatable nostalgia and familiarity that’s enchanting. The song ‘Sure’ from her EP encapsulates the complex emotions of falling in and out of love. She coats these vivid memories with a beautiful blanket of melodies that are both romantic and have an endearing innocence. Her musical references often go back to the early 90s, specifically Heaven Or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins, and The Sundays. After the breezy brilliance of ‘Sure’ and the accompanying EP, it’s impressive that Hatchie already has another 10 tracks of similarly high quality .
‘Her Own Heart’ brims with sweetness. Hatchie’s fluttering vocal has the warmhearted nature of Harriet Wheeler. The eloquent construction and beautifully-strummed guitars are so good that they could find a place on Reading, Writing & Arithmetic.‘Kiss The Stars’ is just as effective, with jangling guitars meshing delightfully as Hatchie passionately pleads, “we could kiss the stars together it doesn’t have to last forever, I only wanted you to go because you said you told me so”.
‘Not That Kind’ has a soft groove from the bass-line and the luscious textures of shivering keyboards. In one of many great lines, Hatchie sings, “If I had a rose for every sorry that was overdue, I’d have a garden full of flowers not this neverending empty view”. It fits beautifully with her wistful delivery and the blissful backdrop of the music.
‘Without A Blush’ (released in February) reveals Hatchie has more strings to her bow. The rubber-band synths and ethereal backing vocals are somewhere between Curve and Asobi Seksu as she reflects on a three year relationship — “you and me were destined to fall apart”. As the chorus comes crashing in, her voice soars as she asks, “if I could kiss you one more time, would it make everything alright?” She demonstrates her love of shoegaze and dream-pop as she did on Sugar & Spice, as well as penning choruses as big as some of the best current pop stars. She reaches the same highs of emotive pop as anything by Carly Rae Jepsen or peak Kylie.
‘Stay with Me’ also demonstrates Hatchie expanding her sound. The School of Seven Bells influences are at the forefront as she surrounds herself with clouds of synths and a catchy dance rhythm. Once the beat kicks in and the flickering synths appear, her voice swells and it’s poignant and catchy. It’s her attempt at writing a “crying-in-the-club track”. She pulls it off effortlessly, and the song’s title becomes a passionate plea to keep a relationship together. It’s exciting to think about the possible directions she could explore in the future
There’s a touch of Mazzy Star in the verses of latest single, ‘Obsessed’. Hatchie’s graceful yearning is matched by a neat New Order styled bass-line. The honeyed ballad, ‘Secret’, is enhanced by twinkling synths and a transfixing nursery-rhyme verse. It recalls Sixpence None the Richer (or anything that could be found on the soundtrack for Dawson’s Creek). When Hatchie repeats, “baby can you keep a secret, a secret” her vulnerability could melt the coldest of hearts. Every song comes with a powerful sense of longing.
It’s clear that it’s a classic debut album when Keepsake closes with the rhythmic rush of ‘Keep’. The bending bass-line and Cure-in-pop-mode keyboards takes the album to a wonderfully-satisfying climax. Hatchie isn’t afraid to wear her influences on her sleeve. Her talent for infectious melodies and unashamedly huge choruses make her stand-out from others who ride the same dream-pop wave.
Hatchie chose the name of this record to reflect her feeling that it’s likely to become a cherished item from this period of her life. It’s a fitting name for an album that captures the exact moment she became a special artist. That feeling should be something to treasure, just like this incredible record itself.
Keepsake is released on 21/06/19 on Heavenly Recordings