Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke


4.0
excellent

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
March 2nd, 2009 | 90 replies | 10,108 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It’s like taking a time-machine back to the ‘80s & bringing all the cool things forward a quarter of a century!

While rockers may argue the case for hair-metal, the decade of the 1980s will best be remembered for the explosion of pop music. While artists such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper & The Pet Shop Boys were able to maintain successful careers, many a performer seemed to come and go with worldwide hit singles being followed by pretty much nothing else. To put it in the words of 27 year old New Zealander Phillipa Brown (aka Ladyhawke) on the song ‘Professional Suicide’: “I see you had a hit in ’89, too bad we don’t all age as good as wine”.

Knowing the above, you would think that any musician looking to reinvigorate ‘80s pop and make it sound fresh two decades later would either be foolish or arrogant. However, Brown is neither of these. Despite her shyness and illnesses (she is lactose intolerant, has numerous allergies and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a’la Craig Nicholls of The Vines, ), she not only sings on her self-titled debut album, but also plays pretty much every kind of instrument that makes an appearance. It seems that Brown’s mission to make the impossible possible simply stems from natural talent.

Ladyhawke wastes absolutely no time reeling in listeners either, with opener ‘Magic’ beginning with an instantly likeable synth arrangement, before Brown’s laconic indie-inspired vocals enter the piece. It is a voice which may not be the most immediate – especially in the mainstream pop world – but it contains an alluring quality that impresses to no end. Whether the voice would work on its own is almost irrelevant as this opener sets the stage for most of the album by including a deceptively catchy chorus, contagious hand-claps and an impressive synth-heavy breakdown.

Those listeners worried that the album may get a little too electro and dancey need not be concerned however as early album highlight ‘My Delirium’ near perfectly combines pop tendencies with a subtle rockier side via use of guitars, bass and drums. This 4th single includes another under-stated and relatively simplistic chorus which could well be one of the most infectious of 2008!

Elsewhere on the beginning half of ‘Ladyhawke’, no song particularly stands out, yet nothing is all that bad either. It is then a thoroughly pleasant surprise to learn that this album is actually back-loaded, with hardly a missed step occurring from track 7 onwards. Lead (digital) single ‘Back Of The Van’ begins the batch of songs not to dissimilarly to the album’s opener. Greeting the listener with keys that remind of Van Halen and scratchier vocals that remind of Stevie Nicks, it is very reminiscent of the 1980’s and its repetitive “You set me on… You set me on fire” chorus will aggravatingly get stuck in your head.

‘Back Of The Van’ is the perfect lead-in to album highlight ‘Paris Is Burning’, which is a retro cut that is all kinds of cool. This 2nd single contains a richly textured musical backdrop which provides the perfect accompaniment to suit Brown’s vocal style. It also helps that the song practically has 2 separate choruses with one being used as both a bridge and outro. Soon after, Ladyhawke further proves that she can implant almost anything in your mind on the sublimely repetitive 3rd single ‘Dusk Till Dawn’. As silly as it sounds, you will be saying “Bang Bang Bang on the wall, from dusk till dawn” soon enough.

Other solid tracks to grace the latter portion of this impressive debut are the sardonic lyrics of ‘Professional Suicide’ and the near-perfect conventionally structured pop of ‘Crazy World’. Even ‘Oh My’, which is included as a bonus track on most LP versions, is likely to win you over with its television theme-like groove and infectious chorus. If there is a weakness to be found on ‘Ladyhawke’, it is that Brown has not quite perfected the art of the ballad. Both ‘Love Don’t Live Here’ and closer ‘Morning Dreams’ are not awful, but lack the emotion to have them be anything too special.

Arguably the most prominent skill shown on this album is making it sound fresh and modern, despite the comparisons to any number of acts from the 1980s. From Kim Wilde to The Pretenders, from Madonna to The Bangles, the inspirations are clearly evident, yet there is little that comes off as stale or derivative. While much credit should obviously go to the artist herself, it would be remiss not to also complement the bevy of producers used on the release, the most prominent of which is Pascal Gabriel, who has previously worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Dido, Sophie Ellis Baxtor and Bomb The Bass.

In a year which saw the release of well-received pop albums (Britney Spears, Lady Gaga & Katy Perry) as well as critically acclaimed female-fronted non-mainstream efforts (Santigold & Portishead), it is a little bewildering that an album which finds a successful middle ground between the two has been overlooked. To think that such an album has come from a relatively young lady making what is essentially her debut recording is astounding. This album comes highly recommended to anyone that likes classic pop music with a twist.

Recommended Tracks: Paris Is Burning, My Delirium, Magic & Dusk Till Dawn.



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user ratings (79)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review on recommendation and request by Alex 'Streetlight Rock' Silveri. Great call mate... Thanks.

Jim
February 18th 2009



5110 Comments


my delirium was honestly one of my favourite singles from last year, if not my favourite. didn't like paris is burning much though, but this album still intrigues me
really surprised few on here have heard of her. this is the kind of delicious pop alot on sputnik tend to fap over
great review obviously davey

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Arggghhhhh, no track listing or release date for some reason.

jrowa001
February 18th 2009



8749 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is awesome sauce

MassiveAttack
February 18th 2009



2684 Comments


you know there's a movie made in the 80s with the same name! lol

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ok, that's better.
Exquisitiely said as always Jim. Up until yesterday, I had 'My Delirium' as the highlight track also... It is the song which really got me interested in Ladyhawke, because (like yourself) 'Paris Is Burning' initially didn't appeal to me a huge amount. However, the latter track has grown and grown on me big time. And many cuts from this album will do so similarly as they really do reveal themselves over multiple listens.
And I totally agree with your 2nd sentence, I really have no idea why many of the users on Sputnik - especially the staff - have not heard and/or rated this. 'Delicious pop' is a very appropriate term.
Hell, even metalhead Jeff likes this album. If that doesn't say something, I don't know what does.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Marko, click on the artist's name at the top of the page and read my 'artist info' to let you know that not only I knew there was a movie called that, but so did Ms. Brown.

jrowa001
February 18th 2009



8749 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i listen to a lot of nonmetal music

MassiveAttack
February 18th 2009



2684 Comments


haha that's fucking awesome! The movie was OK though, Matthew Broderick looks hilarious with his bowl haircut.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know you listen to a lot of non-metal music Jeff... But you're still a metal-head... Your pie-chart says so!
Yeah, I know the movie Marko. When Broderick was a dweeb & Pfeiffer was actually one of the biggest female stars going around. The movie is '80s through & through and I don't think it's a mere coincidence that that is why she picked that as her stage name.
By the way, I still haven't pegged down your musical tastes Marko, but I think you might like this... As long as you can admit to a soft spot for 80s pop.

rasputin
February 18th 2009



14504 Comments


Having a metal slice or three on your pie chart does not in anyway equate to being a 'metalhead'.

MassiveAttack
February 18th 2009



2684 Comments


nah im not into pop music really.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was awaiting your predictable rebuttal to my comment Rasputin. Could see it coming a mile away! :-)
I actually think you could like this. It's a bit more electro than 2 of your reviewees (Lisa Mitchell & Laura Marling), but arguably in the same ball-park.
Fair enough Marko. But just keep in mind that many would call Ladyhawke indie-pop... As her voice has a kind of English indie-artist twang to it.

Vooligan
February 18th 2009



3541 Comments


despise this.
good review though Davey!

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
February 18th 2009



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha, glad to see you checked it out man. If you get the chance see her live, My Delirium goes off. Great review as usual.

Digging: Pharoahe Monch - PTSD

Captain North
February 18th 2009



6743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Too tired to read all that right now, but judging by the fact that the singles were recommended, I reckon I'd probably be dissapointed by this.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Despise" is such a strong word Billy.
It was well worth checking out Alex and I am glad you liked the review. Thanks again for the reco. I was actually reading about her live show and the comments were mixed, with some saying her shyness sort of reduced the all-round entertainment factor. Did you find that a problem or was the music simply good enough?
Yeah Tom, those couple of short reviews I wrote last week were more than balanced out by this one. Haha. And while this album is rather even, I would generally suggest that if you do not like 'My Delirium', then you probably won't like the whole album.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
February 18th 2009



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Um, I dunno, I saw her at Nevereverland along with Cut Copy, The Presets, Whitest Boy Alive and Hercules And Love Affair, so it was pretty full on. Shes been touring heaps now, so she problaby got over it. Her kiwi accent is mad cute.

Jim
February 18th 2009



5110 Comments


i really like kiwi accents on girls

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2009



20824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good point Alex. I guess she was pretty much just starting out and she's got to used to gigging.
It seems that both you and Jim are smitten by kiwi girls.
Is that a pick-up line of yours Jim: "Hey kiwi girl, what's the number that comes after 5?" (Answer given) "Yes please".



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