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Hatchie - Keepsake Music Album Reviews

Hatchie's platonic ideal of dream pop goes down a bit too easy, like another rewatch of a John Hughes film.
Shoegaze offers the perfect place to bury bad feelings; there is a storied legacy of groups like Slowdive and Mazzy Star sinking Tory conservatism and post-breakup remorse into hazy swirls of distortion. Harriette Pilbeam uses Hatchie as an outlet for more quotidian concerns — friendships, romances, nostalgia. On her EP Sugar & Spice, Pilbeam offered glassy guitars, long sighs, and some bright choruses, but there was nothing darker beneath the surface to reward your close, ongoing attention. She promised a broader palette for her debut, but Keepsake feels hemmed in by the same lack of depth. Pillbeam's platonic ideal of dream pop goes down a bit too easy, like another rewatch of a John Hughes film.

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Katie Dey - solipsisters Music Album Reviews

The Australian bedroom-pop artist’s third album demonstrates that her attention to how her songs start, end, and connect has never been keener or better controlled.

The internet can be a lonely place, but Katie Dey treats it like a one-way transmitter to other people feeling trapped in their homes, heads, or bodies. On her debut asdfasdf, the Melbourne songwriter shot her fragmented voice out of her isolated world and right into your own. Her heavily pitch-shifted coo on songs like “don’t be scared” and “fear o the dark” made the words difficult to understand, but the ineffability of the feelings was clear. If her vocals sometimes sounded more electrical than human, they also reminded you that, hey, brains run on electricity. On the new solipsisters, Dey moves closer to the mic than ever before, revealing the powerful lyricist hidden in plain sight.


For all the scrambled sonics running through her music, Dey has proven a knack for careful pacing. Asdfasdf kicked in like a generator, building to an energetic peak on “Unkillable,” while 2016’s Flood Network staggered its songs with short interludes running from “(f1)” to “(f8).” solipsisters pushes off gently with “waves,” pairing crashing water and crumbling, distorted pulses that flow seamlessly into the title track. “solipsisting” builds with warm drums that swoop and crack in the air, and rather than ending after its ascendent climax, it simply floats in the immaculate atmosphere. Dey’s voice slides into textural fog, where acoustic guitars and synths tie loose knots that recall Feels-era Animal Collective, whose songs seemed to curiously wander past their logical conclusions. Dey’s attention to how her songs start, end, and connect has never been keener or better controlled.

As seamlessly as “solipsisting” sneaks into view, “stuck” snaps to attention with crisp piano lines and pristine drums. “I was born inside this body and I’m stuck there/I’m a storm inside a rotting false construction,” Dey sings with surprising clarity. Her words, shared in a lyric sheet for the first time, nestle their sharp edges inside candy-coated sounds and unexpected details. “stuck” amplifies her strengths without losing the homespun intimacy that made her work so special, like when she punctuates a soaring chorus with a soft, throat-clearing cough.

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solipsisters’ suite-like uniformity and more balanced mix are a departure from the chaotic highs and lows of Dey’s early work, allowing the songs to support and play off one another. Repeated references to shells and waves ripple from the stunning centerpiece, “shell,” where Dey opens a reflection on her own voice with the line, “My soul sings in higher octaves than my larynx will allow.” In a recent interview, she explained that her virtuosic pitch-shifting was not only an artistic decision, but “a way of relieving dysphoria and making my own music more palatable for me to listen to so that it didn't upset me—like putting an Instagram filter on your face.” Over flourishes of drums and glowing synths, she finds melody and poetry in knotty phrases like, “Morphing esophageal practices hardening the lumps up in my throat/My heart throbs in impossible rhythms my head could never erode.” It’s transcendent enough to illuminate even the album’s darkest passages.

In that same interview, Dey explained of solipsisters: “There’s a lot of ‘you’ and ‘me’ and ‘we,’ but it’s really all just about me, because I was so totally alone while I was writing these songs. You end up talking to yourself a lot if you’re isolated.” The album’s depictions of disconnection and depression are not easy to hear, even when surrounded by sounds that are, but in writing so passionately and honestly, Dey has initiated a powerful act of communion. If she’s reached you, she’s already made you feel less alone.


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