Just Give In / Never Going Home (Polyvinyl)
Moving away from your comfort zone can be a scary prospect, but it’s also something that can ultimately give you a fresh perspective. And if there’s anyone who can recognise the this, it’s surely Hazel English.
Originally hailing from Australia, Hazel English moved to California to attend art school for what was initially supposed to be six months. But she’s still there, and a fully installed member of the Bay Area musical community.
Just Give In / Never Going Home is her first album-length release and consists of last year’s EP (that’s the “Never Going Home” bit) and six new tracks. The release is front-loaded with the fresh material which showcases English’s writing collaborations with Jackson Phillips, AKA Day Wave, and it’s clearly a pairing that’s paid off in a big way.
The delectable “Fix” hums with tangible summer vibes. The melodic guitar line and English’s vocals glide effortlessly through a vapour of blissfully dense dream pop haze that leave you feeling like you’re comfortably baking pool-side in the LA sun.
“Love is Dead” drives with a propulsive verve led by spacious synths and loose beats. It shows that English makes a little go a long way as the track ends up being a heatwave far greater than the sum of its parts. “More Like You” follows with a more understated dream-pop-meets-chill-wave aesthetic, but it still proves to be impossibly infectious.
“Never Going Home” is the mile high stand out of the release, delivering a sharp blast of bittersweet abandon that comes together with all the melodic pop sensibilities of Teenage Fanclub coupled with the ethereal majesty of Beach House. It’s a heady mix that’s impossible to escape from. “I’m Fine” served as the wistful closer to the Never Going Home EP, showcasing raw emotion stripped to the bone. The track showcases English’s affectingly honest lyrics “every time you ask me how I’m feeling / I just smile and tell you that I’m fine”. It’s an applied lesson in the levels of heartbreak that can be achieved with just a guitar and an arpeggiated keyboard.
With Just Give In / Never Going Home, Hazel English performs some glorious alchemy with her ability to effortlessly distil sunshine into a heady pop gem, and leaves you feeling that this is just the beginning of something truly great.
Just Give In / Never Going Home is out 12th May on Polyvinyl.