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Hatchie – Giving the World Away (Secretly Canadian)

“This album really just feels like the beginning to me, and scratching the surface – and even though it’s my third release as Hatchie, I feel like I’m rebooting from scratch.”

Harriette Pilbeam aka Hatchie talking about her awesome second album Giving The World Away which sees her finding her power, expanding the scope of 2019 debut Keepsake, painting a widescreen vista of sound, showcasing her knack for melody and deepening the emotional connections in her songs.

So, whilst she invites us into her mirror house of half-remembered memories, fragments of pop records of the 90s and early 00s at every turn she retools it for the future, not so much back to the future as consuming her influences like gaze pop, synthpop, rave comedown ambience and refashioning them into a personal bricolage forged with her collaborators, she is speeding into the future in her Delorean. This is Hatchie pop: at once familiar yet unmistakably her, each couplet beating with a melodic and self-reflective heart.

At the time Brisbane’s Pilbeam started working on Giving the World Away amid an Australian lockdown in 2020 with producer Jorge Elbrecht, known for his work with Sky Ferreira, Japanese Breakfast, and Wild Nothing, and long time collaborator and partner Joe Agius, she was caught in an uncertain moment. When 2018 EP Sugar & Spice and subsequent debut LP Keepsake both arrived to critical attention that catapulted Hatchie into an international spotlight, she felt both unsure of herself and the self-imposed pressure to keep going forward. Here, she is coming into her own, embracing her insecurities and finding her confidence, chiselling each honest couplet and tirelessly honing her sound.

Rather than having a set idea of how each track would sound beforehand, the words guided each composition, making for a more flowing record. “The lyrics often didn’t lend themselves to the dynamic music I’d initially envisaged, so I kind of followed the ideas of the lyrics rather than rigidly trying to adhere to a particular type of sound.” she told our friend Andy VonPip in a recent interview for Under the Radar.

“I’m capable of writing more than just nice dream-pop songs, and there’s more to me than just writing songs about being in love or being heartbroken”. She offers “there’s a bigger picture than that,” and this record emphatically proves it. It’s an album of complexity but still pop.

‘Lights On‘ opens the album with a gorgeous shot of neon pop. Pilbeam says it “started with a drumbeat inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshees‘ ‘Kiss Them For Me’with illusions to mid-period Kylie and the hook-laden guitar sounds of the early 90s, glistening guitars, glacial synths and Hatchie’s wonderful bittersweet vocals bubble into a heady, infinitely catchy chorus that gets intimately entwined with a tumultuous relationship doomed to fail.

The besotted pop of ‘This Enchanted’ which saw the light of day last year, was written with producer Elbrecht. It captures the intense rush of love and the way you can drown in those feelings. Its swirling pool of New Order-style keyboards, a shimmering tidal wave of guitars, bubbling beats that bear more than a passing resemblance to Alisha’s Attic, and layered with Hatchie’s infectious melodies that are tinged with bittersweet feelings of uncertainty, yet in the release these exultant besotted hook-laden refrains soar into perhaps her most pop moment yet. Taking the template of ‘Stay With me’ from her debut album, and turning the dial up, it expertly melds elements of 90s and early 00s dance-pop and guitar pop. In short, it’s gorgeous.

A salty kiss slumber” Pilbeam emotes on the effortless ‘Twin’, riven with shimmering strums, chiming guitars as Pilbeam scales the staircase of wistful longing and unrequited love, a chorus that wraps itself around you tightly, its gorgeousness of the kind The Sundays carved out on their debut album.

Pilbeam grew up the youngest in her family, a self-described “big baby”, but says the last year and a half gave her the space to understand herself better. In this period she read Jia Tolentino’s collection of essays ‘Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusion’. She also found inspiration in a Red Hand Files entry from Nick Cave, in which he responds to a young woman who’d written about her struggle with body image. Given her own self-image issues, Pilbeam was moved to write the evocative and empathetic ‘Take My Hand’ that bouncing beat and enveloping vocal hits are reminiscent of Madonna‘s ‘Bedtime Stories’, which is like a warm self-empowering embrace when you really need one.

“I used to think that this was something I could die for / I hate admitting to myself that I was never sure,” she sings on the towering epic album centrepiece ‘Quicksand‘, before asserting: “It’s all I know, and I’m taking it back.”

A majestic slice of cinematic pop written with Olivia Rodrigo collaborator Dan Nigro, it’s riven with cascading waves of synths and gaze guitars that crash in, bubbling beats and melodies hitting that sweet spot of commercial pop with a depth, that explore that feeling of never being satisfied, despite everything on the surface appearing to be going well. Its anthemic quality and meticulous production hark to the work of William Orbit with Madonna and All Saints

The percussion from Beach House drummer James Barone offers syncopated rhythms possessed of a breadth. See the dabbing keys and trippy cut-up beats of title track ‘Giving The World Away‘ that are redolent of the Beloved or Dubstar, and show a brooding side, a hacienda-ready track about self-destruction and being gentle with yourself. “What if what drew us together / Triggers our demise?” she sings lucidly, in a song underscored by uncertainty and foreboding.

The Rhythm,’ sees her push her psych-pop experiments to the edges. It’s littered with aural delights, crunching drums, elastic bass and spiralling keyboards and fuzz guitars it’s a stonking slice of self-confidence that moulds the basis of the Curve sound into a pop track. It’s the thematic sequel to ‘Quicksand,’ an assured retort. ‘The Key‘ sees her tiptoe wistfully through past indecision and embraces her strength the bounding percussive beat, giving way to reverb-soaked Chapterhouse style guitars and infectious chorus that comes full circle. Revelatory downtempo song ‘Don’t leave me in the Rain’ is beautiful, with traces of Cocteau Twins at their most anthemic, the cavernous reverberating beat is laced with gauzy synths and punctuated by a wistful, melody-rich Pilbeam vocal that meditates on self-discovery, and acts as a plea to be heard and held, to be loved, acknowledging the past and looking across the ocean to the future.

In this era where chart pop can sometimes be a little insubstantial, can sound a bit tinny and synthetic, with her fantastic second album Giving the World Away, Hatchie offers a majestic and towering contrast, blending her influences and hitting a rich vein of knowing pop music with artistry, brimming with neon hooks, layered intricacy and self-aware, emotional depths, that you can return to again and again. In the process, she has embraced her fears and done it anyway, reclaiming her voice. We may have been obsessed with her early releases, but watching her flourish is enchanting.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.