Juliana Hatfield, Weird (2019)

Juliana Hatfield has been quietly releasing albums every year or two for coming on 30 years, ever since her early work with indie rock near-breakouts the Blake Babies, making it unfortunately easy to take her for granted.  And it probably doesn't help that the output can be so unpredictable -- maybe you'll get another one of her polished, poppy, almost radio-friendly albums, sounding like an edgier, indie rock Sheryl Crow; or you could be getting some jagged bursts of anger and emotional outpouring, or stripped-down acoustic balladry, or even a covers album (like last year's quietly great tribute to her childhood hero Olivia Newton-John).

But she's one of the artists where I'll randomly thumb through my collection and realize, damn, I need to spend more time listening to Juliana Hatfield.  (I recently rediscovered 2008's excellent How To Walk Away, and for the life of me can't figure out why I didn't spend more time with it when it first came out.)

Her most recent album, from earlier this year, finds her back in a more straightforward indie pop mode, shiny, jangly, yet still challenging (delightful opener "Staying In," the hook-filled "Sugar"), coupled with more driving rock tracks (the terrific "Broken Doll," the wonderfully catchy closing number "Do It To Music").  Throughout, the guitars clang and churn, one of her more energetic efforts.  As has been the case ever since the Blake Babies, Hatfield has a hard time keeping it simple, and even the most infectious pop tracks tend to spin off into an off-kilter bridge.  And as usual, beneath the perky sheen lies a lot of bitterness and exposed wounds; these are rarely happy songs, hooks be damned ("sugar I hate your guts, sugar I love you so much" comes across like a career mission statement).

Anyway, I see a long weekend of catching up with my Juliana Hatfield back catalog ahead of me.

Here's a video for "All Right, Yeah":
 ...and the video for the more meditative "Lost Ship":

Incidentally, as long as I was in a Juliana Hatfield mood, I decided to throw together a Spotify playlist, so if you need a (very cursory) chronological career sampler, here you go: