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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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Tim Heidecker - What the Brokenhearted Do... Music Album Reviews

The comedian and musician brings his dry absurdity and taste for 1970s singer-songwriters to a novel venture: a fake breakup album.

As a singer-songwriter, Tim Heidecker maintains an intimate connection to mankind at its most pathetic. This extends to the most powerful men—his 2017 set of protest songs about the president—to the most mundane. On 2016’s In Glendale, he set music to the kinds of banal stories you reserve for lulls in conversation around people with whom you have very little in common: the time you ran into a celebrity in Los Angeles, that morning when you were too hungover to go into the office. Where Tim Heidecker the comedian is interested in exploding these familiar scenes with surrealism, nihilism, or his trademark is-he-even-kidding-anymore dickish persistence, his songwriting presents adult life in the dry, unromantic scenes it’s mostly filled with. The joke is that there is no joke; start getting used to it.


A breakup album seems like the logical next step for this fascination. It helps that Heidecker’s musical influences—Los Angeles heroes like Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Warren Zevon—are known for making their ugliest thoughts sound clever and sweet. Produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado to sound like the spur-of-the-moment brainstorming session that it probably was, Heidecker’s latest album, What the Brokenhearted Do…, captures vignettes of the newly divorced in all their moments of crisis and stasis. You sense that he sourced his pain from a long history of classic rock bummer anthems, and there’s something inherently entertaining in hearing him carve out a space among them.

Of course, there’s one thing that all those breakup albums have that Heidecker does not: actual heartbreak. He’s been clear about this record being “non-autobiographical.” It was inspired by a rumor spread by right-wing trolls about his wife leaving him, and the pain in the songs rarely feels like more than just a writing prompt. In the place of emotional specificity or raw nerves, he gives us spot-on genre exercises (the On the Beach drag of “Finally Getting Over,” the sunny jangle of “Insomnia”) and a few keyed-in moments of inspiration. “When I Get Up” is an incessantly upbeat pop song that makes a point of going nowhere. As with his brilliant comedy series “On Cinema at the Cinema” and “Decker,” Heidecker’s dry delivery and the seemingly strict template belie how much craft is actually going on under the surface. The pose of rudderlessness and effortlessness, as always, suits him.

Spreading this mood across 11 folk-rock tracks, Heidecker seems to take a “Well, how hard can it be?” approach to songwriting—an openness to cliché, stream-of-consciousness, and the first rhyme that comes to him. It’s a tendency that also shows why he is particularly gifted at parodying (and forecasting) the late-career work of artists like Bob Dylan. (“As great as he is,” Heidecker once observed, “He only has so many moves.”) His own songwriting takes similar short-cuts, as he limits his scope to the immediately visible and moves as swiftly as possible from one idea to the next. In the music video for “When I Get Up,” Heidecker plays himself pitching an elaborately choreographed visual accompaniment, only to be told that the budget is not nearly big enough to accommodate the concept. “We’ll figure something out,” he mutters in defeat, conceding to the low stakes of this type of project as a whole.

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Even with its humble aspirations, Brokenhearted makes a compelling case for Heidecker as a musician, beyond his more recognizable creative outlets. His career has long been defined by an instinctual drive to not repeat himself; as soon as one of his ideas starts to gain traction in popular culture, he’s often moved onto something new, in a different medium, with different collaborators. This deep-rooted adventurousness and indifference to popular perception actually aligns him more with fellow indie artists on Jagjaguwar than any comedian he came up with in the ’00s, and by this metric, Brokenhearted is his fullest musical statement yet. In mining songwriting’s most fruitful subject matter for its most unglamorous revelations, Heidecker leads us toward a punchline consistent within his catalog: it’s a breakup album, with all the heart scooped out.


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