This year marks ten years of Ladyhawke, the project of Pip Brown and former member of Two Lane Backdrop and Teenager, and the New Zealand native has come circle. Her self-titled, debut album introduced us to her version of hook-laden synth-pop while her sophomore album, Anxiety, had her showing an edgier, rock side while also highlighting the inner turmoil she was encountering. On album number three, Wild Things, she returns to what she does best – offering catchy, upbeat electronic-pop songs that will have hearts swelling and booties wiggling.
Beyond the buzzy sound, Wild Things sees Brown at peace and, consequently, the record aims to do two things – to celebrate life and love (Brown married her partner and fellow Kiwi Madeleine Sami last year) and to deliver on Brown’s promise “to make music that could put a smile on people’s faces and give them a feeling of nostalgia”. For the most part, Ladyhawke delivers. The lead single and opening track, “A Love Song”, which has been filling airwaves around the world, blasts with synths and an infectious melody. “The River”, likewise, is sugar candy on the auditory senses, brimming with an infectious hook and chorus that is unforgettable.
The title track may not have the anthemic qualities of the first two songs, but it is arguably the strongest on the album. The slow build, the ’80s-style introspective storytelling combined with the CHVRCHES-esque soundscapes would make the song a perfect fit on any future remake of a John Hughes movie. Brown then offers a change-up with “The Roll”, a stuttering, assertive number that could be Karen O fronting Operators.
The second half of the album offers familiar hooks and beats. “Chills” and “Sweet Fascination” again offer a CHVRCHES-esque vibe, but the latter provides a sweet and inviting touch that will have you reminiscing of your first love. “Wonderland”, meanwhile, has an Austra and Devojka vibe, a swimming track of swirling synth-pop delights. “Money to Burn” and “Dangerous”, though, give the album some much-needed edge in sound as well as in tone. They highlight a different side to Brown, where maybe the music doesn’t make you smile but it does make you contemplate the moments that made you stronger and who are today.
In many ways, Wild Things is just that – the moments of the past decade that have defined Phillipa Margaret Brown. Maybe her goal is to put a smile on our faces (which she does), but more importantly the album is the culmination of years of pain, sorrow, and joy for the emerging synth-pop star.
Wild Things is out now on Brown’s own label, Mid Century Records, and under license to Polyvinyl Records (US/CAN) and Universal Music Australia. Purchase it on iTunes (NZ | AUS | UK | US | CAN) and Amazon (UK | US).
Ladyhawke is on tour now, currently traversing her way through the UK before hitting the US later this month and then making her long-awaited return home in July. Check tour dates here.
Featured photo by Cybele Malinowski.
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