Blissful and Charismatic
Those of you labouring under the impression that Charlotte Hatherley's solo material should sound like Ash mark II should turn away now because 'The Deep Blue' takes the pop troubadour further into the territories of Beach Boys synthetic harmonies, creating her own distinct sound - good for her!
'Cousteau' sets the tone with its two minutes of sirenlike vocal sighs over an aquatic synth track that almost says "Welcome to The Deep Blue", casting Hatherley as Aqua Marina navigating an ocean of calm and rejuvenation. 'Dawn Treader', produced with XTC's Andy Patridge later mirrors this stoic and glassy calm as brass licks echo away in the background, reflecting the "calypso" in Charlotte's lyrics. It sees our stunning heroine about to reach new and exotic shores and meditating on this development.
Much of the rest of the album continues in this blissed out vein starting with, 'Be Thankful's Phil Spector-esque soaring synth meanderings sweetening Charlotte's twee vocals, this is what girl pop should sound like - sugary for sure, but light and buoyant enough not to leave an ugly guilt after consumption. 'Wounded Sky' features some of the most luscious female vocal harmonies since the 60s, while 'Behave' has a cheeky little rhythm and bright guitar riff that spells carefree summer days and good times.
'Again' adds some melodrama to proceedings with searing guitars and swelling violin notes; these instrumental touches add more sincerity and depth to the pensive melody augmenting the devious lyrics, "Took his heart and tore it it two". You see Charlotte isn't all sweetness and light... 'Very Young' is a blast of good old-fashioned throbbing rock with a frenetic rhythm, "You're sweeter than anyone I've ever had/ Is it because I'm very young and there's nothing to be scared of?" teases the singer in one of her moments of wild abandon.
'Love's Young Dream' lets in some more of the rock funk, with 80s male vocal harmonies echoing Charlotte's sassy vocal cries of, "Do you remember love's young dream?" a complex pattern of soft vocals build up in this charismatic chorus, before guitars and percussion are unleashed to add a gritty taste to this otherwise soft electronica track. 'Rollover (let's go)' provides another surprise shot of energy with a fierce injection of pulsing percussion suddenly leaping into another otherwise dreamy, lulling bittersweet melody.
'The Deep Blue' is a pleasant submersion into the tropical shores of Charlotte Hatherley's blissful dreams, an album consisting of delightful tunes, which could become too pop for anyone, but luckily there are enough sudden rock snippets to shake up all of this frivolity to the right level. Some voyages into the unknown float and some sink without trace, 'The Deep Blue' may not be Hatherley's maiden solo voyage, but it's the first album she's released herself and it cruises triumphantly above an ocean of indie trauma, smirking somewhat happily at its lucky lot.