Hazel English - Just Give In / Never Going Home

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2017-05-12

Oakland-based, Australian (Melbourne) native Hazel English combines six new recordings (the Just Give In EP plus a bonus track, the darkly alluring dance teaser, ‘That Thing’ that just may be the best thing here) with her 2016 House Anxiety debut EP Never Going Home into one handy package of bubbly, sunshine pop. ‘Other Lives” opens promisingly with a bouncy Cure-ish backbeat reminiscent of ‘Friday I’m In Love’, so fans of Robert Smith’s frothier concoctions should sit up and take notice. Others will appreciate English’s sweet, sensitive vocals, dreamy arrangements (current single, ‘Fix’ should soundtrack your latest Spring fling), and catchy melodies full of jingly jangly guitars and happy feet-inducing keyboard backing.

‘Birthday’ automatically qualifies as a perennial favourite (someone will always be playing it to celebrate his or her special day!), while the double-tracked title of her debut swirls in truly scrumptious ribbons of cotton candy fluff. Harmonies are another strong point that fill in the quiet spaces between the shimmering guitars and snappy drums, thankfully sedated to efficient time keeping rather than the annoying latest penchant towards overbearing grandstanding.

‘Make It Better’ is another favourite in the realm of thoughtful dance pop from the likes of Tashaki Miyaki, Alpaca Sports, Beach House, and the Fortuna Pop! stable (‘Allo Darling, Comet Gain, et.al.) and while I prefer the debut as a whole, the newer material shows the burgeoning talent expanding into new dimensions that should make her an artist to watch in the coming years. (In fact, English launches her release on the continent next week with shows in Germany, Belgium, and Paris before hitting the Isles for a week of gigs in Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and London. Catch her now before that “next big thing” moniker makes scoring tickets nigh impossible.)

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