A quaint, quietly enchanting third solo album from ex-Ash guitarist.
Mike Diver 2009-10-23
A breezy, uplifting listen from start to finish, New Worlds is Charlotte Hatherley’s most accomplished album yet, a record that should see her step out as a solo artist like never before.
Her third collection – and second since parting company with Irish pop-rockers Ash – is bursting with brisling new-wave bluster, powerful sing-along friendly choruses and an apparently effortless conjuring of prickly electricity. Each song surges and swells, with many strong contenders for standalone single release. The record’s lead track, White, is a fine first choice though – it sets a neat tone for what follows, Hatherley’s confident vocals sparring with a chunky bassline for attention supremacy.
Straight Lines’ chiming guitar is an echo of Dischord catalogue acts like Bluetip and Faraquet, though Hatherley’s accessible lyricism keeps proceedings comparatively lightweight. Indeed, there are several moments when she seems to pay homage to underground inspirations, rather than solely pursue a pop-savvy direction. Full Circle is a dizzying delight of staccato vocals and oddball keyboard motifs, and Firebird is a completely unexpected diversion into peculiar big top atmospherics supporting a hushed proclamation that a relationship will stand up tall to any trials or tribulations.
If New Worlds has a flaw, it’s that – for all of its temporarily engaging invention – it doesn’t linger too long in the memory. A handful of numbers aside, including White and the Foo Fighters-like charmer Colours, with its quirky vocal tics, the songs slide from thoughts soon after they’ve been silenced. This is perhaps down to the album’s twitchy skittering from one approach to the next – while the tone is always upbeat, the execution varies considerably – and it may have been improved by an alternative sequencing.
That said, be they on CD or downloaded, the listener can choose their own ordering of these tracks if they wish – there seems to be no narrative driving the piece as a whole, so shuffle to your heart’s delight. And it’s sure to be impressed, however briefly, as while its effects last New Worlds is a quaint, quietly enchanting listen.