Juliana Hatfield is not happy. Really not happy. And Donald Trump is to blame.
Along with a sizeable chunk of her country-folk, when “The Donald” slithered into power last year, Juliana was far from enamored with the situation. She could have grabbed a placard and joined a demonstration. She could have taken to social media. She could have drunk Martinis and eaten Ice Cream until she felt better. But she didn’t. In a blur of righteous indignation, she made “Pussycat”.
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“Pussycat” sees Hatfield moving away from the acoustic based sound of her last album “Wild Animals” and towards her classic 1990’s sound of albums like “Become What You Are”. Playing everything apart from the drums on this record, she’s channeled her anger into something really rather good. In spite of the subject matter (Ms Hatfield pulls no punches in displaying her revulsion towards the POTUS), she’s created a 14-song album bristling with Pop smarts and sugarcoated melodies. It’s Rage Against The Machine played by The Archies.
Sometimes brevity is your friend. The whole album took just two weeks to make and involved just two musicians – Hatfield and drummer Pete Caldes. From the defiantly anti-glamourous cover image, to the bile in the lyrics, this couldn’t have been a fun album to make. Often the tunes have such a “sunshine pop” feel, in spite of the subject matter and there’s even a glimmer of hope in “Sunny Somewhere” – “There is a dark grey cloud, over this whole damn town, it’s gotta be sunny somewhere”, but that’s pretty short-lived. And it’s not just DT who’s got her all riled up – Kellyanne Conway gets a roasting in “Kellyanne” – “You’re smiling as your face is melting and sliding off your skull down to the ground”. Yipes. But Donald gets both barrels at short range – “Rhinoceros” casts our hero as an odd-toed ungulate (that’s a Rhinoceros to you, chum…) performing an act of intimacy with Melania Trump, before DT turns his amorous attention to the rest of the USA. Subtle? No. Effective? Yes. It’s only on the last track “Everything Is Forgiven” where we see Juliana in a really, really dark place – “God, forgive me please for all the things I’m gonna do to him”. Can someone pop round to her place and give her a hug? That might help. Or maybe not.
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Hatfield has combined two things most likely to send the record buying public scurrying for the exits. Politics and a concept. But it’s done so well. These are great, hook laden, upbeat Alt-Pop songs. Sometimes the lyrics get a little…much, but this is meant to be a document, detailing one woman’s disgust at the state of the nation. It was never going to be pretty.
“Pussycat” is available now via American Laundromat Records
Track-listing is as follows…
1. “I Wanna Be Your Disease”
2. “Impossible Song”
3. “You’re Breaking My Heart”
4. “When You’re a Star”
5. “Good Enough for Me”
6. “Short-Fingered Man”
7. “Touch You Again”
8. “Sex Machine”
9. “Wonder Why”
10. “Sunny Somewhere”
14. “Everything Is Forgiven”