British Summer Time in the North. A reprieve is needed from the seemingly never-ending deluge and claustrophobic grey skies that have hung overhead for the past few days. A reminder is needed that June is meant to be bright and clear- a happy, warm season- Hatchie may just be the remedy we desperately desire. Brisbane’s Hatchie, last seen in these parts at last year’s Sounds From The Other City festival, are fresh from the US leg of their tour promoting new album Keepsake- every show on their UK leg had sold out in advance, which shows the rabid fanbase the band have accumulated over the past year.
Support Loose Articles are anything but- everything in perfect lockstep with Wire-like precision and Fall-like repetition (repetition repetition), with ragged edges and a sardonic, sarcastic drawl. With a minimal setup of two clean guitars, bass and stripped back drums, Loose Articles’ sound is tightly-wound and jagged, fierce but playful with a biting sense of humour, firing through songs about unwanted karaoke duets and underage drinking in Halifax town centre which becomes an attack on the bland identikit refits of pubs in the 21st century- the Wetherspoonsisation, if you will. Delivered more often than not with a sneering spoken-word delivery and making no attempt to hide accents, comparisons to those early Fall records can easily be made- and that is not a bad thing in the slightest. Their set finishes with a blast of righteous, justified anger against the gender gap and the patriarchal landscape- “I am equal, I am lethal!”- showing the raucous, harsher edge to the foursome that goes down fantastically with the capacity crowd.
Opening with soft-focus gliding guitar and shimmering synth drones, Hatchie have a light, airy glimmer that is perfect for summer, sweet but not saccharine with jangling guitar and upbeat poppy melodies- a halfway mark between the college rock of Velocity Girl and full-colour sparkling fuzz of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The new songs, unreleased at time of playing (some copies of Keepsake were available, with demand outstripping supply over the course of the tour) are nothing short of radiant, ranging in style from the laid-back West Coast pop of ‘Obsessed’ through to the woozy, swooning ‘Her Own Heart’ and ‘Kiss The Stars’- the former being an indiepop-shoegaze hybrid swirling delicately beneath a fuzzy, echoing slide guitar, and the latter- about reconnecting with old friends and wondering what would have been- is a heavenly piece of dream-pop which is just barely kept together with a steady slow-dance beat without which the music would dissolve out into the ether- Harriette Pilbeam possesses an transcendent otherworldly tone and range that oftentimes resembles an antipodal Liz Fraser, but Hatchie remain squarely tethered to Earth- completely carefree, relaxed smiles beaming out.
Keepsake material sits comfortably alongside older songs which as ‘Sugar & Spice’ and ‘Sure’, both are more jangly and guitar-driven when compared to the more textured, dreamlike new songs, but the packed-out YES adore every moment- ‘Sure’ in particular joyously cascades out like glitter from the speakers, providing some familiarity and the opportunity for a singalong, which is followed up with the prospect of a dance with set closer ‘Stay With Me’- more Shakespeare’s Sister than Rod Stewart-a miniature epic building up with atmospheric drum pads and keyboards before breaking out into a burst of M83-esque euphoric grandeur backed with a dancefloor-friendly beat before receding back like the tide, ending as it began with electronic drones and distant pulses.
Outside, the rain has passed and the skies have cleared.
Hatchie performed at YES on Thursday 13th June 2019. Words and photos by Liam Moody.