Juliana Hatfield - Weird - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Juliana Hatfield - Weird

by James Weiskittel Rating:10 Release Date:2019-01-18
Juliana Hatfield - Weird
Juliana Hatfield - Weird

If your knowledge of Juliana Hatfield begins and ends with her 1995 release Only Everything and it’s breakout single “Universal Heartbeat” then you, my friend, have been missing out. When the alt-rock siren first burst onto the scene way back in the mid-’90s, few could’ve predicted that some twenty-five years later she’d still be releasing raw and inspired records on a regular basis. But she has. Again and again actually.

If anything, Hatfield has defiantly plowed her way through middle age, seemingly turning the volume up with each and every new album. Hell, even her recently-released (2018) Olivia Newton-John covers record - where she took a predictably saccharine songbook and turned it on its head with a healthy dose of lo-fi production and some of the most fervent vocal performances of her career - was borderline genius. And at 51 years young, Hatfield’s latest release, the aptly titled Weird, finds the ageless indie-rocker offering yet another collection of fuzz-drenched ruminations on the many shades of modern life.*

Opener “Staying In” instantly delivers, as Hatfield skillfully marries an understated melody with some uncharacteristically lush production choices. “It’s So Weird” continues to ride the clean-guitar wave, while the jangly, synth-laden “Sugar” is one of the most appropriately titled songs in Hatfield’s catalog.

From there, Weird tends to maneuver back and forth between driving indie gems (“Everything’s for Sale”, “Broken Doll”), throwback garage-rockers (“All Right, Yeah”, “Paid to Lie”), and somber almost-ballads (“Receiver”, “Lost Ship”). One stellar track after another eventually gives way to the cinematic “No Meaning”, which might just be the best of the bunch. “Do It To Music”, a fitfully anthemic romper, closes out the record with an appropriate bang.

Few artists can claim to have as bulletproof a back catalog as Juliana Hatfield. If you’ve dug any of her records along the way, then you’ve probably dug them all. And with Weird, Hatfield has impressively channeled a potent combination of her trademark angst and a ‘singer/songwriter’ vibe into what is easily her strongest batch of songs in a decade. Rarely would I advise an unfamiliar listener to jump on board so late in the game, but in the case of Juliana Hatfield, I’d probably just say start with Weird and work your way backwards from there.

* “I wanted to make an album about the contentment of being inside an apartment and living inside a very small radius...” - Juliana Hatfield

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