Hatchie – ‘Giving the World Away’ review: shoegaze seeker looks inward on sprawling second album

Harriette Pilbeam rebuilds her relationship with herself and expands her dream pop sound

Hatchie’s dream pop glitters differently on the Brisbane artist’s second album. Upping the stakes from her 2019 debut ‘Keepsake’, ‘Giving the World Away’ transports the listener into a different, expansive world.

Both ‘Keepsake’ and Hatchie’s debut EP, 2018’s excellent ‘Sugar and Spice’, basked in the intoxication of romance: falling in love, being heartbroken and all that’s in between. These themes also surface in ‘Giving the World Away’, but there’s a notable shift away from “you” statements and a more weighted focus on the “I”. These 12 songs are largely about self-protection and healing in times of depression, heartbreak and self-doubt – with an ultimately optimistic outlook.

It seems like Hatchie – real name Harriette Pilbeam – is rebuilding a relationship with herself. With the refrain “you don’t have to change”, the sparkling ‘Take My Hand’ offers comfort and reassurance in the face of gnawing self-hatred. In the chorus of opener ‘Lights On’, she declares, “I never felt so good with the lights on”. The album’s title track, Hatchie has said, is about “being gentle with yourself in the throes of depression”. It doesn’t feel a stretch to connect this to the idea of having all the lights on: seeing all the parts of yourself and your life, the good and the bad, and feeling invincible in spite, or because of it all.

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‘Giving the World Away’ reflects Hatchie’s wide-ranging influences, as she blends elements of shoegaze and electronic pop to further fortify a sound of her own. Songs like ‘This Enchanted’ and ‘The Key’ feature the singer’s trademark jangly guitars and big drum fills (played by Beach House percussionist James Barone), sounding big enough to fill a stadium, while closer ‘Til We Run Out of Air’ echoes the sweeping sonics of dream pop pioneers such as Cocteau Twins.

Pilbeam’s vocals are maximised on this record, used not only to deliver message and meaning but also as another instrument, building layers with wordless incantations (see the ethereal ‘Thinking Of’). Hatchie and her collaborators – producer Jorge Elbrecht and co-writer Joe Agius – marry shoegaze’s trademark fuzz and distortion with glossy production. In this way ‘Giving The World Away’ recalls veterans Slowdive’s 2017 self-titled album, which brought the ’90s genre into the modern day with a polished sheen.

Some of the songs take on a darker aura than Hatchie’s previous output – the reverb-heavy title track and ‘Quicksand’ (co-written with Olivia Rodrigo collaborator Dan Nigro) borrow from the school of The Cure and Joy Division with their chiming guitars and more gothic feel. There are even some elements of industrial music in the title track, which may be Hatchie’s most experimental work yet. Her vocals, usually bright and upbeat, take on a new, more sombre personality here, and a propulsive keyboard motif provides an interesting foil to the other instrumentation on the chorus.

Took some time for me to find the rhythm,” Hatchie sings on the ’90s pop-inspired ‘The Rhythm’. She’s locked into it now, finding her groove with an enchanting second album that sounds as good as it feels – a brave statement of self and survival in the face of uncertainty.

Details

  • Release date: April 22
  • Record label: Ivy League Records
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