Exploring the subgenre of dream pop
Releasing her sophomore album Giving The World Away in April of 2022, Australian artist Hatchie (Harriette Pilbeam) is able to fuse electronica elements with more a modern dream pop style to create extremely catchy and well written tracks.
Of the four tracks that were released as singles, the self-titled “Giving The World Away” is the one that stands out the most stylistically. This may be because of its usage of heavier percussion and more intense guitar as well as a synth that is more relaxed in the other tracks. The song also switches back and forth from major to minor keys. Along with that, the song’s rigor helps creates a very particular energy that is conveyed to the listener.
One major strength that the album has is Hatchie’s utilization of bridges in her music. This song in particular repeats the words “Giving The World Away” almost as if calling out to the listener. The notes repeat back and forth between major second and minor third intervals which lead the to the mysterious and sometimes ominous sound of the song. The instrumentation is complimented further by Hatchie’s usage of backup vocals and harmonies in tandem with her whispery tone of voice. A few other songs in the album follow this vocalization pattern including some that feature it heavily such as “Lights On” and “The Key.”
The first half of the album contains most of the album’s standouts with the most streamed track currently being “Quicksand.” Contrasting to the self-titled track, “Quicksand” falls into similarities that the majority of the songs utilize which are softer, more relaxed tempo and timbre. This can sometimes lead to monotony if listened back to back, as many of these songs tend to blend together. However, when delving deeper, many of the tracks are composed with intricacies that can grow on the listener over time. “Quicksand” had the luxury of standing out from the pack with its unique use of mixing. The song features an echoing rhythm behind the lead vocals along with a strong bassline throughout. This overall leads to a strong and catchy chorus that grips listeners from the electronica, pop and funk genres alike.
One track that often gets lost in the shuffle because of the similarities within the second half of the album is the penultimate track “Sunday Song.” This song perfectly encapsulates the particular mood it is going for: wistful and almost melancholy with its slower tempo. A standout moment in this track is definitely the bridge, which utilizes a similar technique used in “Giving the World Away:” repeating a phrase over and over for dramatic effect as the backing vocals and instruments intensify over time. The words are openly ambiguous, discussing the perception of someone you love with the text repeating “The way you look at me, the way I look at you.” Along with this, the pitch goes up and down by a perfect fourth following the lyrics. Using the chords around this fixed pitch interval, Hatchie changes the emotion that the song is able to convey. This tactic creates different chordal structures and likewise shifts the repetitive word structure to be one of the most creative aspects of the album. However, with this track falling second to last out of the twelve songs it can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of the similarity of the preceding songs. Even so, it is a standout compositionally and is incredibly catchy although often overlooked by listeners.
All and all, Hatchie’s sophomore album Giving the World Away is able to bring ’80s style instrumentation into the mainstream within the subgenre of dream pop. With strong standout singles and the utilization of dreamy textures with softer moments, this album is a relatively easy and fun listen, an overall enjoyable time for listeners.