On her debut EP, Sugar & Spice, Hatchie's ultra-catchy take on dream pop was so perfectly realized that it was hard to tell how she could improve -- or expand -- on it. Though her approach isn't as novel as it was before, Harriette Pillbeam's music sounds better than ever on Keepsake. She spends the first half of her debut album showing just how much she can change things up while keeping the honeyed melodies and soaring choruses that are vital to the Hatchie sound. On "Not That Kind," she strips away some of Sugar & Spice's hazy guitars in favor of distorted drums and wide-open spaces that add drama to its candy-coated yearning; later, "Unwanted Guest" proves her music isn't all sweetness and light, with a hefty rhythm section and towering, shimmering riffs providing an unexpected and welcome edge. On the album's luminous second half, Hatchie returns to the more familiar terrain of Sugar & Spice with the strummy ballads "When I Get Out" and "Kiss the Stars" as well as the irresistible finale "Keep." She also finds new nuances within her blend of dream pop and pop with a capital P -- somehow, "Without a Blush"'s swooning guitars and vocals have as much in common with Curve's "Coast Is Clear" as they do with Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams," while "Stay with Me" proves she's as capable of epic emotional climaxes as any chart-topping artist. Throughout Keepsake, Pillbeam develops the flair for pairing widescreen sounds with down-to-earth lyrics that she hinted at on Sugar & Spice. "Obsessed" is a standout, not only for its nagging arpeggiated synth hook, but for the clever way she dismisses her feelings while hinting at how deep they run. By contrast, "Her Own Heart" is unabashedly earnest and, with its clouds of guitars and piles of harmonies, one of the album's prettiest moments. As Hatchie exceeds the expectations set by Sugar & Spice, Keepsake reflects her growth into an even more confident and varied artist.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares