Review of Wild Things Album by Ladyhawke

Sales of Pip Brown's eponymous début as Ladyhawke weren't life changing, but sufficient for her to continue with the vehicle after starting out in her Wellington home with Two Lane Blacktop and then working with Pnau's Nick Littlemore as one half of Teenager. An on-point mix of lairy chick rock a la The Donnas along with nods to the likes of wavy haired 80's pop from Fleetwood Mac and Kim Wilde, it drew mild criticism for straying occasionally close to pastiche, but with female soloists perpetually struggling to break the mould, it proved that total compromise wasn't essential for modest success.

Ladyhawke Wild Things Album

2012's Anxiety sought to largely repeat the formula, but it's predecessor's retro gloss was somehow missing and was eventually drowned by the success of fellow Kiwi Lorde's smart and crystalline post-feminism. Since then Brown - after an epiphany one morning in her LA home - has given up alcohol and married long term girlfriend Madeleine Sami, finally acknowledging that drinking was a part of her process she no longer required for it to function.

These cathartic moments have undoubtedly shaped Wild Things, a record on which the earthier guitar tones which characterised the Mr.Hyde schema of previous releases are all but completely absent. This space is neatly occupied by an outpouring of joy; Brown has surely never written a tune as straight ahead as opener A Love Song, her voice which has frequently played in the margins belting out a chorus as definitive as it's slick.

Whether it's contented domesticity which paved the way for this re-birth or a desire to consign a personality to the shadows of history, there's a sense of freedom at work here which was never a feature of Anxiety. Money To Burn admittedly does look further back to her more opaque late noughties depiction, but Let It Roll, closer Dangerous and Golden Girl are more energised, direct, unrepentant and aware.

There are even moments where benchmarks can be set as far out towards the horizon as the eyes can see: Wild Things title track swirls with undulating synth bass and clever, ear-charmed programming, whilst Sweet Fascination's evocative, richly infatuated seam edges her close to the gates of Taylor's ballpark of 21st century perfection.

In some ways this shift to the light represents an even bigger risk than continuing to plough her more introverted furrow: Brown is nudging into the congested waters of the main stream at a time when they've never been more congested with erstwhile former talent show runners up.  What makes Wild Things less of a gamble is it's a sense of conviction, the broad kinetic strokes of its design and the artist's more elemental muse. Authentically happy: we could make t-shirts.

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