When does a comeback become the status quo?
In pop and rock music the last decade has been defined by being in thrall to the 1980s. The Decade That Fashion Forgot is perhaps the last great period of originality in music, and its legacy seems to grow ever stronger; Pale Waves could write the whole soundtrack to Stranger Things and no-one would notice, Fontaines D.C. have studied new wave in detail whilst The 1975, one of the UK’s biggest bands, aren’t fussy and channel the synth pop of the entire era. Aligned with the nostalgia for the era in pop culture as a whole, the whole decade is a well of inspiration that is perhaps never going to run dry.
Hatchie seems keenly aware of this: last year’s Sugar & Spice EP was a tantalising glimpse of her summery symphonies, and now we have the full debut Keepsake, its music reflecting the weather a Brisbane native might be accustomed to, if not those of us from certain other parts of the world, so bright and shining is it.
Not That Kind is widescreen indie pop with a glorious sheen that could lift the most maudlin of days, lead single Without A Blush a synth driven paean to the rigours of love, as much of the album is; ‘I didn’t want to end tonight, I didn’t want to end the dream’. Love, being the most relatable subject matter, is the over-arching theme of the album, to the point that it can become repetitive, but the surrounding music or vocals cover all manner of sins.
Hatchie’s vocals are generally all multi-tracked, with an ethereal quality that befits the subject matter. The sprinkles of shoegaze that accompany her pained singing on Her Own Heart (‘stay true to your heart but don’t look back) make it a particular standout, while the Smithsian guitars that kick in for the chorus on Secret easily outweigh the frustrating vocal delivery of the verse.
The guitars are also put to good use on the strutting and joyful Unwanted Guest, giving it a propulsion that is lacking elsewhere, while the solid bass on Kiss The Stars evokes the yearning pop of The Cranberries. Similarly, the drum machine on Obsessed adds some pace to the album, the guitar majesty of New Order thrown into the mix. Album closer Keep does the same trick, but this time it’s the frenetic nature of The Cure’s Why Can’t I Be You? that is the key source material. Lastly, When I Get Old is a masterclass in drum fills.
The 1980s introduced the synthesizer and the keyboard into the charts in a big way. Ironically, being the most computerised, those instruments are arguably the most effective at reflecting human emotion, therefore it’s probably unsurprising that it’s made such a comeback. In this day and age we are all indebted to computers, yet paradoxically we crave human emotion. A vicious cycle indeed. Hatchie manages to find the balance between the two and has crafted a more than promising debt.
Ultimately good pop will out, as it has done here.