Album Review: Hannah Diamond – Reflections

By Kiah Easton, Columns Editor
[PC Music; 2019]
Rating: 7.5/10 

Key tracks: “Love Goes On”, “Concrete Angel”, “Fade Away”

Hannah Diamond has been a driving musical force not only as a member of the PC Music label but also as a hyper-pop pioneer. She takes the elements of traditional pop and deconstructs them, transforming familiar musical patterns into something new, honest and powerful. Concepts of love and loss scatter themselves on the tracklist of her new LP, Reflections, and each classic trope is stripped down and represented in a raw form, allowing almost anyone to relate to what she creates. 

Read more: Album Review: Caroline Polachek – Pang

“Love Goes On” is a perfect summary of the album’s overarching themes: puffy, tear-stained eyes, flashing lights and bodies packed into the club. Ethereal and sparkly, this song evokes a sense of euphoria that contrasts her lyrics. Diamond’s vocals are simple and gentle but defiant, fighting against the pain of heartbreak and the difficulty of moving on. On the somber chorus, Diamond continuously repeats the line “and my love goes on;” it is both hopeful and somber. Whether her love goes on for someone she wants to stop loving or if she wishes to love herself instead is ambiguous, mimicking the complex networks of intertwined emotions created by the act of love. 

Reminiscent of intro music from a 2010 YouTube compilation video, “Concrete Angel” begins with a bouncy synth pattern that swells with Diamond’s voice. As you prepare for a drop into another clubby track, the song instead slips into a cloud of ambiance and pulsing bass. The second build-up is truly angelic with bright synths and sparkling reverb. The drop never really comes in the way it is expected, but the song does eventually descend into a deconstructed and noisy club track in which Diamond’s voice is chopped and stitched together to create a fake pop aesthetic, referencing to the future of AI pop music.

“Fade Away”, a single released more than three years before Reflections, fits in perfectly and is revived within the context of the project. Its cohesion and place within the album is a testament to Hannah Diamond’s vision and ability to fuse pieces together to create something more powerful, regardless of how long it takes. “I always thought I’d be / The picture saved on your screen / Now it’s of something else / What does that even mean?”, Diamond’s lyrics pierce the heart with the pain of a broken future with someone you loved. Like many of her other lyrics and the PC aesthetic as a whole, she infuses ideas of the digital world and its effect on humans.

In an unexplainable way, Reflections feels like the future and the past of pop music, revealing an indefinite idea of the future of self-generated pop music while also conveying emotions inherent to the human experience. The way in which Diamond fuses the aesthetics attached to the PC label, such as materialism and cyberculture, with an extreme level of transparency about her emotions creates a beautiful contrast that evokes a pleasant uneasiness. Hannah Diamond has continuously shaped the PC movement with her airbrushed, hyper-realistic aesthetics and emotionally shattering lyrics. We’re forever anticipating her next project.

Listen here:

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