Giving the World Away, the sophomore album from Hatchie, is the truest introduction to the songwriter at the helm of the project, Harriette Pilbeam. Although her sound arrived fully-formed, a dazzling dream-pop and shoegaze tangle, it’s here that Pilbeam fully distills the core of herself into a record. “I’m capable of writing more than just nice dream-pop songs, and there’s more to me than just writing songs about being in love or being heartbroken — there’s a bigger picture than that,” Pilbeam explains. “This album really just feels like the beginning to me, and scratching the surface – and even though it’s my third release as Hatchie, I feel like I’m rebooting from scratch.”
For Pilbeam, that bigger picture explored here includes confronting her anxieties after decades of compartmentalization; realizing her own self-confidence and self-esteem; taking control of her own narrative, and her place in both her professional and personal life. On Giving the World Away, she held herself to higher standards, especially with personal lyrical precision. At the time she started working on it, she was caught in a strange headspace.
When 2018 EP Sugar & Spice and subsequent debut LP Keepsake both arrived to critical acclaim and catapulted Hatchie into an international spotlight, she felt both unsure of herself and an intense, self-imposed pressure to keep going forward. Trapped in constant motion, Pilbeam was unable to be present or appreciative of herself, both professionally and personally.
She tackles that struggle directly in the moody single “Quicksand,” written with Olivia Rodrigo collaborator Dan Nigro. “I used to think that this was something I could die for / I hate admitting to myself that I was never sure,” she sings, inverting the thesis of one of her early break-out singles “Sure.” And then, a few lines later, she regains her footing — in her musicality, and in herself: “It’s all I know, and I’m taking it back.”
It sets up the rest of the record, an album about self-confidence, about reclamation, about the strange time in young adulthood where you begin to finally be able to see yourself clearly. Incisive and probing, Giving the World Away is the clearest look at Pilbeam yet, and a relic of the power and bravery that spring forth from embracing vulnerability and putting your heart on the line.
Produced by Jorge Elbrecht, known for his work with Sky Ferreira, Japanese Breakfast, and Wild Nothing, Giving the World Away is Hatchie’s most thunderous, sprawling work yet. Featuring extensive input from longtime Hatchie collaborator Joe Agius, it takes the celestial, shimmering shoegaze and pop sensibilities of her earlier releases, but with the volume knob cranked up tenfold. Built out with percussion from Beach House drummer James Barone, it’s synthed-out, sonic opulence, a more structured and ornate musicality with traces of ‘90s trip-hop and acid house influences.
Pilbeam initially intended for the record to go in a higher-energy direction — she had the distinct vision of a Hatchie show turned dance party, inviting more movement and vibrancy into her live shows. The Siouxsie and the Banshees-inspired “Lights On,” which charts the intensity of a tumultuous, secret relationship, and lead single “This Enchanted,” both capture that bright vitality. They were light bulb moments for the record, written in Los Angeles just before the pandemic hit. Glinting with a more industrial, gothic-sound woven into their oversized pop packages, they gave Pilbeam a rush of inspiration.
But then, between COVID and the lockdowns in Australia, Pilbeam retreated more into herself, and that introspection and self-discovery served as the true inspiration for the record. Again and again across Giving the World Away, she returns to that same theme – dismantling internalized shame and finding gratitude and steadiness, and finally being able to trust herself.
Pilbeam grew up the youngest in her family, a self-described “big baby,” but says the last year and a half gave her the space to understand herself better. “I always just felt like I was too emotional, and if I was too anxious about something, I’d be told to stop thinking about it, to stop worrying about it – I was always made to feel like I was wrong to be emotional or to be overthinking things, and I pushed it aside.” But after years of emotional avoidance, here she excavates her fears fully.
Pilbeam also read Jia Tolentino’s collection of essays Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion while writing her lyrics, and cites it as an indirect influence throughout. She also found inspiration in a specific Red Hand Files entry from Nick Cave, in which he responds to a young woman who’d written about her struggle with body image. How do I behave? that young fan’s letter ended, and both that – and the generosity of Cave’s response – struck Pilbeam. Given her life-long struggle with self-esteem, Pilbeam was moved to write “Take My Hand” after reading it.
“The Rhythm,” a sonic outlier, is what serves as Giving the World Away’s truest anthem of confidence. On that track, Pilbeam wanted to experiment with production and what the Hatchie sound could be, the possibilities of unpredictability. In a lot of ways, it’s the thematic sequel to “Quicksand,” the assured and confident answer, where you’ve become the person you always wanted to be.
“I feel ready to move forward and like I’ve really taken the time to appreciate my accomplishments and appreciate myself a lot more than I used to,” Pilbeam says. “I think I’m always going to be like an anxious, unsure person, but I do feel like I’ve taken steps forward to understanding myself better and going easier on myself. So I feel good. I feel really, really ready.”