Saturday, April 23, 2022

Review: Giving the World Away • Hatchie




“Took some time for me to find the rhythm. It’s hard to see but believe in me it’s within,” Australian singer, songwriter, and keeper of odd jobs Harriette Pilbeam tells her audience on “The Rhythm.” Meeting somewhere between electronica and industrial music, the song feels like a huge statement piece from someone’s alter ego – and in some ways, it is. Amid recording sessions at the helm of her Hatchie musical project and after a successful tour run around Australia with Kylie Minogue, Pilbeam told The Guardian she worked through the pandemic in cafés and warehouses – a 20-something double agent with both a platform to make music and the realistic life experiences to resonate with her audience.

On her second album, Giving the World Away, Pilbeam sources influences from across the past three decades and mixes them into an actualized artform that feels  indescribably familiar yet remarkably fresh. Guitars and bass are reverberated across an ocean of synthesizers and toward a saturated horizon of swirling ‘90s memories – the best possible cross-section of post-grunge, dance, surf rock, and dream pop that disarms even the most crippling emotions. This year’s first instantly brilliant song, “Quicksand” injects a nagging fear of unchecked greed into a gorgeous release: Syrupy harmonies, keys, and guitar swirl into a potent rush at each chorus. Over a more disruptive backdrop, “The Key” questions the same: “Do I regret that I wanted to be something so haunted, haunted by everything? Did I ever want anything?”

Regret so often crushes the hard-earned products of ambition, as Pilbeam realizes that every change is attached to a sacrifice: Is the result worth as much as the means to reach it? Will we want more when we get there? Is good enough ever enough? These questions are embedded in this album’s context, but they’re coated in a dazzling presentation of comforting nostalgia – a warm, calm breeze to replace the raging cyclone of confusion. By balancing intense emotion with a lifetime’s worth of musical touchpoints, Pilbeam has managed to make a striking coming-of-age statement piece out of a scattered collage on Giving the World Away, an album that is as much an untethered celebration as it is a graceful defeat.

Giving the World Away is available now under Secretly Canadian.

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Maira Gall