388. The Juliana Hatfield Three – “Become What You Are”

Lacking the absurdist sense of Ben Folds & Co, this Hatfield combo actually was a trio.

I’m not sure why Juliana felt so committed to acknowledging the role of her bandmates her (given she also had accompaniment on her previous album), but the sound is a little fuller, so perhaps that was the motivation.

There is a progression between the two albums, with the rawness polished down, and a great consistency of sound. I guess the latter may reflect the constancy of the bandmates.

This was Hatfield’s big hit album, with her biggest singles, but listening today has confirmed how much I preferred the debut.  While the musicianship and performance level may have improved, lost along the way is the freshness and refreshing naiveté.

Strangely the songwriting seems more childlike, or perhaps teen-like.  Supermodel and Spin the Bottle sound like they were ripped straight out of some 14 year-old’s ‘dear diary’.  I’m sure the argument is that Hatfield is being ironic, but it just lacks subtelty and nuance.

Having said that, I flip-flop in having a soft spot for the equally juvenile My Sister:

File under: You are not acting your age

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2 responses to “388. The Juliana Hatfield Three – “Become What You Are”

  1. The hand of REM’s classic-era producer Scott Litt is significant here. The sound is definitely richer, which I think gives greater weight and depth to the tracks rather than airbrushing them. A strong collection of songs, with my favourite probably being the “is it twee or is it insightful?” track ‘For The Birds’. Improbably, I can dig it either way.

  2. Check out a podcast review of Become What You Are by The Juliana Hatfield Three on Dig Me Out at digmeoutpodcast.com, a weekly podcast dedicated to uncovering and rediscovering lost, forgotten and overlooked rock of the 90s.

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