Phillipa (Pip) Brown AKA Ladyhawke's self-titled debut album, was originally released on 19th September 2008, a week many will remember as the week that Lehman Brothers collapsed, intensifying the chatter of financial stress around the world. The previous year had seen bands from around the globe such as Klaxons, MGMT, Hot Chip and CSS all vie for space in the newly established space on the music scene that seemed to reject guitars as its primary noise maker while not totally embracing the minimalist ethos of synthpop or electronic dance music. Whether it was New Rave or Electroclash, the keytar was threatening to make a comeback, and it seemed that young people were ready.
Among August 2008's releases were debuts LPs from Late Of The Pier ('Fantasy Black Channel') and Lady Gaga ('The Fame'). The latter sat to the side of the new scene but was not wholly unrelated, demonstrating the influence the underground youth movement had already exerted on the mainstream and the sensationalism it could bring with it. It was in this blur of mainstream and underground that 'Ladyhawke' was released in the following month, though Ladyhawke's debut single 'Back Of The Van' had been around since April, available exclusively as a download from her MySpace page or website.
'Ladyhawke' was released amid an industry that was struggling to keep pace with a rapidly changing scene and technology, and it was perhaps the familiarity offered by Ladyhawke's layered references to 1980s pop that initially drew the attention of big labels as well as fans.
On her website, in February 2008 she stated "I wanted to make music that could put a smile on people's faces and give them a feeling of nostalgia even though they may be hearing my songs for the first time. I love how music evokes memories of a certain time, I wanted to see if I could find a method of songwriting that would evoke those feelings from me on writing the song and then on the individual when listening to it for the first time."
It would be a disservice to Pip Brown to suggest that her music is purely nostalgic, retro-styled pop, recorded in order to hit a demographic. Struggling with illness in her youth, Brown spent a lot of time at home immersing herself in a world of music, her parents being musicians, this pastime was likely encouraged and nurtured. By the age of 29, when 'Ladyhawke' was released, Brown had been associated with several New Zealand and Australian alternative rock outfits, notably as guitarist with Sydney band Teenager. It wasn't until 2006 that her solo stage persona, taking its name from the 1980s fantasy film, was initiated, and by this point, Brown was clearly equally at ease with the alt-rock and pop aesthetics in a way that hadn't been championed since the 1980s. The result was cleverly crafted pop songs that clicked into soundtracks, worked on dance-floors, helped fill up all those newly bought MP3 players and regularly got played on BBC6 Music.
Ten years on, the album and its indie escapism are well worth revisiting.
- Manipulating Woman
- My Delirium
- Better Than Sunday
- Another Runaway
- Love Don’t Live Here
- Back Of The Van
- Paris Is Burning
- Professional Suicide
- Dusk Til Dawn
- Crazy World
- Morning Dreams