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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.





Joey LaBeija - TEARS IN MY HENNESSY Music Album Reviews

The Bronx-born DJ melds genres at breakneck speed on a disconsolate and deeply personal breakup record.

Bronx-born Joey LaBeija is a homegrown New York DJ, with diverse taste reflecting his city’s disparate communities. He’s a known quantity on the queer nightlife circuit—he previously co-hosted the defunct Techno Cumbia party, which put on shows by Bbymutha and LSDXOXO—and in his punkish, winking vision of club music, there is equal space for dembow, ballroom, rave, and techno. His first LP, 2016’s moody Shattered Dreams, slowed down the tempo to ruminate on themes of loss and death, rendering much of the music nondescript in the process. Luckily, LaBeija’s club bona fides are more discernible on TEARS IN MY HENNESSY, a breakup record on which he vacillates between sinewy club workouts and synth ballads to seek deliverance from a deteriorating relationship.

As its melodramatic title suggests, TEARS finds LaBeija in a miserable headspace, self-medicating with alcohol and sex so as to not face the end of a crumbling romance with his boyfriend. LaBeija translates this heartache best when he writes in vivid, blunt terms; there’s brutal clarity to a line like “the way you fuck me feels like charity,” as he vents on the queasy, psychosexual synth centerpiece “charity.” Capped off by an extended garage breakdown, the song is an example of LaBeija firing on all cylinders, melding genres at breakneck speed à la his DJ sets while still carving out space for his own deeply personal revelations and experiences.

That tendency, however, doesn’t extend to all of TEARS. “dial up affection” chugs over stuttering programmed beats, with LaBeija’s voice pitched up demonically high as he compares personal issues to computer errors. (Even with a Vocoder, no one can convincingly sell the stilted technobabble that is “Gateway timeout/Bandwidth limit exceeded/Time to force quit/All our pages are freezing.”) He one-ups it instantly with “simulated love,” which similarly pitch-shifts his voice for a paranoid club song that zeroes in on a simpler lyrical conceit: “Why do you wanna play with my emotions?/Simulated love just going through the motions.” Blown up in size with airhorn synths and twitchy beats, the song reshapes his frantic, increasing paranoia to better effect.

TEARS succeeds elsewhere as well: The sawing industrial morass that envelops “wait” resembles Yves Tumor’s seething experimentation. He even recruits mid-’00s twin sister duo Nina Sky for the hook on R&B cut “dry your eyes,” amid skyward synth lines and pulsing 808s. And on the comparatively upbeat closer “animosity,” he seems to finally find a way out, offering up a bittersweet sense of altruism: “There is no animosity/Over your curiosity/You gotta do what’s best for you/So baby I’ma set you free.” It’s a generous outlook that sees him finally at peace, and the off-balance, rubbery synths and club-ready drums behind him reflect the changing mood. LaBeija may have lingering scars to carry, but on TEARS he wears them like armor: durable and, in their own way, life-saving.

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