Twenty years ago, if you listened to alternative rock, then you more than likely knew the name Juliana Hatfield. Either by her own merits or through some sort of fandom through The Lemonheads, Hatfield quickly became a fixture of the decade while releasing some of the better albums of the time. So when she dropped an album last year of Olivia Newton-John covers, we were pleased while really just wanting a release full of originals. Now with Weird, we have that and she sounds fresher than ever on it. While heralding fans in with her signature voice, Hatfield ushers in a new era in her sound without losing the spark that made her so inviting twenty years ago.
The album’s opener “Staying In” captures lots of hooky guitar before Hatfield comes in on vocals and pulls you in. The song is a bit like what she did in the past, but there’s more focus on the instrumentation with a stronger songwriting ability that shines through. There’s hints of pop that fall all over the song, and the album as well that work on multiple levels. The sugary notes of “Sugar,” the catchy notes of “Everything’s For Sale,” and the guitar based twang of “All Right, Yeah” mix in her fun vibes of the past, but the songs all seem to have a point to them even if they’re just pop rock songs. In fact the best of the pop laden tracks is easily “Paid to Lie,” where it’s a song you have to hear for yourself to appreciate.
However, some of the better songs on the album are a bit slower with more emotional ties in the lyrics. The hooks are still there on songs like “Receiver” and on “Lost Ship,” but Hatfield seems determined to show us another side and it’s all wonderful in its representation. Whatever compelled Hatfield to return to releasing music on the regular, we welcome it if albums like Weird are the end result.
You can stream Weird on all streaming sites, you can purchase it in all digital store fronts, or you can pick up physical copies directly from American Laundromat Records. Juliana Hatfield is set to tour in Europe beginning May 20 in Brighton at The Prince Albert until May 26 at Institute in Birmingham. A complete list of her tour dates can be found here.
Image Credits: Photo by David Doobinin.