Juliana Hatfield’s third album, released in 1995 saw her music take a harder edge. The album opens (after a cough from Hatfield) with a pair of punky tracks, What A Life and Fleur de Lys. Neither has an awful lot to recommend themselves. Universal Heart-Beat opens with a drum solo but what follows is more of a pop song with a cloying chorus of “a heart that hurts is a heart that works”. Dumb Fun which follows is equally throwaway and you begin to despair.
That is, until track five on the album, where it improves dramatically. Live On Tomorrow is a breezy acoustic strumalong with a lightness of touch which really suits her, with a gorgeous acoustic solo thrown in. Hatfield handles all the guitar work on this album and she really is in her element on the following track Dying Proof, which features ragged, lurching guitar work. Bottles And Flowers and Outsider are in a similar, highly pleasing vein.
Hang Down From Heaven has echoes of Live On Tomorrow with the addition of a heavy chorus, and a similar sweet and rough experiment follows with My Darling. One of the finest tracks is the penultimate Simplicity Is Beautiful, where she does a fine shoegaze impression, wth a gorgeously understated vocal under layers of guitar fuzz.
For a time in the mid-nineties, Juliana Hatfield really had ‘it’. It’s hard to argue with a lot of this material, quite wonderful in parts.