Text: Paul van der Zalm
The Brisbane, Australia-based Harriette Pilbeam will soon be celebrating her 29th birthday. Just before that, ‘Giving The World Away’ will be released on Secretly Canadian. It is the successor to her debut album ‘Keepsake’ from 2019 and thus the third release under her stage name ‘Hatchie’. In 2018 she put herself on the map worldwide with EP ‘Sugar & Spice’ that generated a lot of buzz around her, especially when Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins was so impressed that he spontaneously made a remix of single ‘Sure’, taken from that EP. It was pretty obvious that he recognized something of their sound in the songs on Hatchie’s EP.
For many artists it then becomes quite the task to balance that overwhelming success with their self-image. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of artists who suffered as a result and that danger also threatened Pilbeam for a while. But luckily she managed to recover and the girl we saw performing in the small hall of Paradiso in June 2019 to promote the debut album has changed into a power woman who can take on the world. The new album is the result of that process and we see that reflected in the lyrics. This is most evident in singles ‘This Enchanted’ (which you can also interpret as Disenchanted = disappointed, disappointed), ‘Quicksand’ (I hate admitting to myself that I was never sure / Sometimes I feel like I’m just sinking into quicksand) and title track ‘(Stop) Giving The World Away’, a pep talk for themselves and their listeners.
Musically, the way up has long been found and the songs are full of zest for life and in a different way, comforting. Its rich production is largely due to Jorge Elbrecht who was also partly responsible for the success of the Japanese Breakfast album ‘Jubilee’ last year. And besides regular accompanist Joe Agius, we also hear James Barone from Beach House on drums on this album. It’s tempting, but too easy to put the label dreampop or shoegaze directly onto Hatchie’s songs, because the songs are too powerful and catchy for that. If Australia were to delegate Hatchie for the Eurovision Song Contest, they would at least finish higher than last year. Recurring element is of course the slightly nasal, but pleasant voice of Pilbeam in many vocal dubs and the refined harmonies therein (as with ABBA).
A few times you hear a reference to the sound of the Cocteau Twins, especially in the intros, for example in the sultry ‘Take My Hand’, with a sample of talking men in the middle. The aforementioned ‘Giving The World Away’ is a trance song with such a characteristic keyboard motif on which you see an entire field swaying. For the following Sunday there is the sweet languid ‘Sunday Song’. A special song is ‘The Rhythm’, which is built around a non-western rhythm and is further filled with heavy dissonances. Bouncer ‘Til We Run Out of Air’ is a worthy closing that evokes associations with a band like Lush. The cover shows Pilbeam with feathers on her back, leading to the conclusion: Hatchie gives you wings.