Monday, June 17th, 2019

Hatchie – Stay With Me

The album’s called Keepsake, and it’s one we might want to hang on to…


Ian Mathers: I don’t care what the lyrics say when you look them up, in the moment of listening I cannot decide each time whether “Stay With Me” starts with “it’s all better, now you’re gone” or “it’s no better”. I don’t think the song can decide either. It’s far from the first song to have that sort of power, just like the drum machine-and-synth, loop-and-swoop approach, while beautiful here, isn’t exactly new. But I’ve heard dozens of songs like this (some even by Hatchie) since the last time one made me feel the way “Stay With Me” is making me feel right now. And isn’t that maybe the only true miracle of pop music: that mere human beings can make “just another song,” one that on the surface isn’t that different than a bunch of others we merely like, and yet it can hit us just as profoundly, as heartwrenchingly bittersweet, as hopefully, as this one is hitting me right now? I could write an essay about the things in my life “Stay With Me” connects up to, people and times and places and songs, but it wouldn’t make much sense to anyone else even if it wasn’t incredibly, tiresomely self indulgent. But the experience I’ve been having with “Stay With Me” is among other things a reminder of the worth of staying connected and engaged with the world, in art as in all things, and not just going back to listen to all the things I already love instead. The chances of any other given human being having this reaction to this particular song today (“if I met you in a different moment/if I met you would I be this broken?“) are small, sure, maybe even tiny. But god, I hope we all get to keep having those moments, and that we recognize the wonder of them in each other.

Katherine St Asaph: I know this was written as a deliberate experiment in writing a pop song (or so they say; I too have claimed my paychecks as experiments), and thus I know the exact places the mechanics are there to get you (unending wistful chords, the yearning “Everything Is Embarrassing” vocal, with an octave jump exactly where it needs to happen), and the places the mechanics clank a bit too loud (the ending sags before the [perfect] bridge; “I’m not done / I’ve come undone” is kind of circular, kind of on its own nose). It’s also been out for months. But the second time I heard this song it just happened to catch me at the exact moment of flood of memory, of accreted stupid unrequited crushes and breakups and failures and regrets, until I was in tears in a cab, which is really the ideal setting to hear this song.

Edward Okulicz: Oh god, this hits me so hard in my heart, it hurts. “Stay With Me” would have been incredible had it been sung by someone like Foxes as a glass-shattering EDM epic, and it would have been incredible done as a shoegaze number by an alternative universe Lush, but it’s also perfect as it is, midway between those two extremes. The lyrics are simple, but they’re no more complicated than they need to be. It’s some heavy-duty yearning but at the same time it’s as light as air. I want to go dancing somewhere this is playing and stare down at my sneakers all night.

Ashley Bardhan: This feels like pretty straightforward dream pop. Super soupy, drowsy vocals over a synth loop. It’s very fine, very reminiscent of making out with a 23-year-old mattress boy named DYLAN. 

Julian Axelrod: Hatchie’s ability to craft grand, immersive synthscapes is impressive, rivaled only by her commitment to pushing semi-formed lyrical conceits past the four-minute mark.

Will Adams: There’s a heartbreaking circularity to the lyrics (“you’re the one who’s won”; “I’m not done/I’ve come undone”) that nails the sense of uncontrollable spinning that comes from an unrequited love. The vacillation between confidence and doubt, the paper-thin façade of indifference, the endless what-ifs and agonizing of what could have been had the cards fallen differently: they all add up to a devastating crush song that, despite never resolving, nonetheless sounds like a massive, necessary release.

Alex Clifton: Drenched in reverb, gorgeous synths and a lovely vocal line, and feels like a beautiful dream. It sounds like the end of a movie where there’s a montage of the main characters heading off into the sunset, unsure of their futures but exchanging significant looks with one another. I hope this blows up, makes it big, becomes as iconic as it sounds — everyone needs to hear this song.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: With a sturdy and prominent drum loop, “Stay With Me” brings to mind My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon” and the sped-up Zeppelin sample on Chapterhouse’s “Pearl.” The key difference is how Hatchie’s vocals are always front and center, clear enough that each word can permeate every synth pad and twangy guitar line and snappy kick drum with a melange of hopeful desperation and knowing despair. That spacious, ever-comfortable void that her voice rests inside reveals itself to be a place of unnerving contemplation. Despite this, Hatchie convinces you that this purgatorial dream state is far more desirable than the living Hell that is life spent all alone.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The art of the fadeout is an intentionally obscure one. It’s the art of making the encroachment of silence into an instrument of its own, of stretching a song’s end into a beautiful eternity. “Stay With Me” has a gorgeous fade-out, ending in a heartbeat of a drumtrack as its shoe-gaze-leaning guitars depart, but it in itself feels like a fadeout, taking the dying hopes of some vaguely sketched relationship and letting them sprawl out before you. It takes a while to get going (it didn’t click for me until the bridge), but it’s the kind of song that deserves your patience.

Alfred Soto: So THIS is the synth pop bauble that Chvrches have failed to write for six years? It stinks of the past, peeks through v-shaped fingers at the future, and in Hatchie’s sweet lies (“It’s so better now you’re gone”) an ever-present present.

Hannah Jocelyn: The tedious, nearly bass-less first half of “Stay With Me” surprised me, especially as so many TSJ colleagues were raving about this song. The lyrics are concise without being cliché, the production is a mostly interesting mix of Madchester drums and modern dream-pop, but I’m left living someone else’s nostalgia. Like Snail Mail and other, similar acts, I’m an outsider for not having the same childhood as every other music writer. That doesn’t make this a bad song: Once the live drums and harmonies kick in at 2:51, it becomes difficult not to fall in love with the song. But even that is probably because it evokes my own nostalgia — it sounds like “Wake Up,” and not the “Wake Up” indie rockers used to reference. (A bit like this pre-“Radioactive” Imagine Dragons song too, which I loved when I was 15.) And I still remain locked out; the YouTube comments claim that “listening to this song feels like being in a club on ecstasy in the 90’s.” But really, this feels like hearing someone else remember that oft-reminisced-upon time period, reminding me once more that things were apparently better before I got here.

Vikram Joseph: From sixth form through much of my twenties, I thought I didn’t really like dancing; far too late, I realised I just hated having to fake it in bleak, sticky-floored provincial or university clubs, damp with straight machismo and broken dreams. These days, I can lose my shit to “Dancing On My Own” and “Make Me Feel” in queer spaces I feel safe and happy in, and that’s wonderful. It stings, though, to have missed out on a kind of transcendence I feel like I should have experienced on the cusp of adulthood, and “Stay With Me” speaks directly, powerfully to that part of me. Those “Born Slippy” synths feel soft-focus and hazy like inebriated happiness itself; Hatchie’s vocals in the middle eight feel like they’re grasping for something intangible and impossible, chasing every lost night and doomed love into the first glow of sunrise. This is slow-motion, tear-streaked disco-ball euphoria to remind you of nights you’re not quite sure belong to you or to cinema; a fever-dream summer dance anthem that makes me believe that the perfect places we have always aspired to are eminently real, flickering in spaces that our younger selves could never have imagined existed.

Iris Xie: When I review songs, I repeat them in order to sink in their atmosphere and be flooded into their sentiments, because otherwise, it doesn’t come clear to me. In this discovery process, I often find myself compelled to sing and ad lib along. For “Stay With Me,” at 2:50, I found myself unconsciously singing the bridge when the midpoint of the kicks off into the instrumental, specifically these two lines: “If I met you in a different moment/If I met you, would I be this broken?” I kept singing these two lines over and over again as each repeat occurs, and then I realized that the bridge is the verbal personification of the instrumental, and it is the underlying sentiment that drives all the stark, urgent confessions, so naked in their desperation and knowing that it is futile and they won’t be heard, but nevertheless, they must be said. This stands in contrast with the first two lines, which put on such a brave face that contains a bitter heart: “It’s all better now you’re gone/It’s all better on my own.” When you sing these lyrics over each other, the synths are so lively and comforting in this melancholy and blend together with warm guitar strums, and solid drums to illuminate these sentiments. Hatchie is in pain from having to deal with such a broken void, and the vibrant singing of the bridge contrasts with the reluctant, forlorn sentiment of the initial verse, so it actually reads: “It’s all better now you’re gone/If I met you in a different moment/If I met you would I be this broken/It’s all better on my own.” Even though Hatchie acknowledges it feels wrong, saying “stay with me” is the balm that she settles on to ease this pain of her lover’s departure because she’s responsible for this pain. The beautiful part about the instrumental is that it reminds me of why music, and art overall, is so deeply important: when one is able to access the space of these heartfelt emotions, and to use the tools at your disposal to create the specific weight and textures of those experiences, it also can help give shape to those who are also feeling these certain ways, and allowing them to release and transmit it. I’ve shied away from my own private embarrassment and shame about this exact situation for years, and have only recently started talking about it with my therapist and supportive friends, but yesterday, I allowed myself to look through old journals and communications about that relationship. In reality, I never allowed myself to feel comfortable with the endless weight of these emotions and regrets, for I never wanted to be haphazard about the textures of this experience, even in making art about it. I feared it’d only sour the reality and aggravate my anxieties about people not taking the level of pain I had seriously and mocking it. Putting myself in that impossible situation for not wanting to mar those moments, I shut it down for the past few years. But I’ve had to let those similar feelings wash over me in the past few months to create art and even give justice to the reviews that I want to give on TSJ and elsewhere, so now I have to acknowledge that buried sadness. I no longer feel shame about that plaintive way to express my emotions about those situations, for this song’s fuzzy, warm haze of disorientation is so familiar, and now I trust myself to just go, which is what I did with this review today. I guess that’s one reason why pop is so lovely — a salve for private hearts, not ready to debut, until they are. It’s clear now.

Reader average: [8.22] (9 votes)

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6 Responses to “Hatchie – Stay With Me”

  1. All of the writing here is SO good that I don’t want to single anyone out, but I will add that “a 23-year-old mattress boy named DYLAN” nearly made me snort water out of my nose, I think partly because it makes it sound like he comes from Ikea.

    Anyway, I clearly love this song and I’m so, so excited to see such good writing on it (definitely including from people who don’t like it as much as I do!).

  2. true story: after I submitted my blurb I sent a chat like “I love this song but one of the other blurbs on it is also the ultimate sick burn”

  3. also I last-minute edited it at like midnight because I suddenly realized what it was reminding me of and it was 100% everything is embarrassing

  4. Kinda embarrassed for y’all not showing Sleep this much love

  5. would you say that we……. slept on it

  6. WILL