Sometimes you find an artist that has all you look for. It’s rare, but it happens. When that artist subsequently changes style and sound quite radically, it’s a bit of a heartbreak really.
When I found Hazel in 2015, she was a true breath of fresh air. She had it all: the innocent schoolgirl/cult-vamp look à la Anna Karina and Margo Guryan, the most pristine jangle guitar-sound with a postpunk bite (aided by producer Jackon Phillips aka Day Wave), the perfect timbre, and oodles of hazy dreaminess. I had all songs on repeat for years and it was a joy to witness their first shows.
Then Hazel went into a different direction and became somewhat of a media hype spun out of control. It’s understandable. She probably needed to wean off the Day Wave sound and grow artistically as a songwriter and do her own thing. Little girls grow up. I get that. I also get that “Wake Up” was probably a great album, but I just never warmed to it, as I stubbornly held on to what was already perfect in my opinion.
So you can understand my joy when Hazel released Nine Stories yesterday, in collaboration with none other than Jackson Philips again. Instant bliss upon hearing the those signatures Day Wave beats and bass, and Hazel‘s delightful meandering soft tones and their distant joint harmonies…. hell, even the bangs and the twee looks are back! Yes I know I am being stuck and conservative and all that, but I listened to the old stuff today and, let’s be honest : never change a winning team!! This team wins every time!