When Hazel English moved to the Bay Area from her native Australia, she came with the purpose of furthering her studies in literature. She soon began making music instead and hooked up with Day Wave's Jackson Phillips to collaborate on a sound not too dissimilar from what Phillips was doing: straightforward indie pop with reverb-heavy guitars, sweeping synth pads, and machine-driven beats, sounding like a slightly more polished version of bands Captured Tracks might sign (e.g, Beach Fossils, Nic Hessler). The difference in English's case is that it's anchored by her brightly melancholy voice and introspective lyrical slant. The first songs English released on the Internet reached a surprisingly large audience, and the release of the Never Going Home EP in 2016 gave people an idea of just how good her songs and the duo's production could be. In 2017, English signed to Polyvinyl Records and re-released that EP, plus another one she recorded afterwards, Just Give In. The sound didn't change much, though maybe it became a bit more atmospheric and English's vocals a little more assured. Her pop bona fides were in place right away, and both the first EP and the follow-up are filled with sneaky hooky songs that have a very pleasing warmth and depth. There is nothing jarring on either, and they both work as smooth background music and delightfully unassuming pop songs. The only track that stands out is the bonus track that ends the collection. Produced by a guy, Justin Raisen, whose CV includes Charli XCX and Sky Ferreira, "That Thing" is a little too slick and too close to the mainstream to really capture English's homespun charms. Ignoring that one misstep, the rest of Just Give In/Never Going Home is a strong introduction to Hazel English and her quietly impressive brand of indie pop.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra