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on 12 July 2017
I love The Juliana Hatfield Three; a trio of intrepid musketeers in no need of a D'artagnan. I love their albums but I truly love 'Become What You Are'.
I love the way Juliana elongates her vocal chords to emphasise the butterfly existence of 'Supermodel.'
I love the way Juliana namechecks the Violent Femmes and the Del Fuegos in the relatable 'Sister'.
I love the way she announces the arrival of the "bridge" in 'This Is The Sound', and I love her for immortalising the name 'Mabel' in song.
I love the way she manages to make retribution sound so palatable on 'Dame With A Rod', and how she can make a song called 'Addicted' sound so well....addictive! I love the way she reminds us all of the thrilling teen lovers roulette that is 'Spin The Bottle'.
I love the fact that after almost 25 years my finger is nowhere nearer the skip button than it was when this music first tantalised my eardrums.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture; I love this album. I wouldn't mind betting that 'Become What You Are' sits proudly in the c.d. racks of Charlotte Hatherley and Ellie Rowsell. I bet they love this album too....
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on 25 August 2004
I seem to have spent probably too much time on amazon reviewing, and browsing, juliana hatfield albums. Infact, I seem to have written several hundred word reviews of a couple of albums, but my obsession with juliana hatfield music is justified because she is a brilliant artist, and any way in this case, my review will be short(er) because it is so easy for me to describe Become what you are, possibly my favourite album of all time. There is an atmosphere, or feeling, behind the music- slightly sad, very youthful, like juliana is managing to capture exactly what it feels like to be her. Although the album has a lo-fi 90's indie- rock sound, I think it would appeal to lots of people, whether they like that music genre. Its nice to see a female artist be herself and sincere, not having to be artificially confrontational, flaky and pathetic or just a big slut. Juliana sings about supermodels, fictional sisters, saving baby birds, past presidents, revenge on rapists, small town blues, addictions and playing spin the bottle. I like this girl. Don't you like the sound of this girl? Maybe you won't love this album as much as I do, but its great music and you'll get a real sense of a time, a place, and being in someone elses head.
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on 21 September 2002
The First time ever I heard of Juliana Hatfield, was through the words "I think I'm addicted / I got an insatiable need / I think I'm addicted (addicted) / Finally it happened to me." ...
A friend wrote those someplace, and I liked it .. so I asked who was the writing from, and she mentioned Juliana, and this album. Wondering how would it sound, after quite some time to find it, I discovered .. I liked it ... :) I was even addicted for some time.
Why ? It's fun, most of the times, with a touch of serious on it ... It's about love and hate, and how they are, in a way so close (especially "My sister"). It's ironic at times (Supermodel ...), and it has these really strange mix of sound in a way ... Together with Bed, it is for me the best album by Juliana Hatfield :)
More "mature" than "Hey Babe" (even if "heavier" on the ear) and more substancial than "Only everything"... at least for me ! :)
Not to be missed ... especially if you happen to like Juliana's work :)
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on 22 November 2004
if any album was the soundtrack to my life, this would be it. some how it just has a sound and subject that fits what i'm often feeling and thinking. this album is what i listen to when i need comfort, and when i'm happy. if everyone has given it five stars, how can it be bad? it's julianas best ever solo, maybe one of the best records ever. . .everything from supermodels and sisters, to baby birds, spin the bottle, insanity, revenge and independance. . .
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on 6 July 2004
In 1993, Hatfield's friend and former bandmate, Lemonhead Evan Dando, was flopping about at festivals, wearing dresses and being the NME's darling, and jangly American indie guitar rock was in. And Hatfield was really the only female in her field, so she really shouldn't have found it so hard to break through in the UK at a time when Throwing Muses and Belly were having top 10 albums.
Unfortunately, the press was a little too preoccupied with Hatfield's proclaimed virginity and relationship with Dando to give the music a proper listen. Shame, because Become What You Are - recorded as the Juliana Hatfield Three with bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Phillips - is a simple and brilliant record that she's yet to match.
Much has been made of Hatfield rarely going beyond the lines of her stock template. Granted, a cursory or superficial listen to Become What You Are could leave you thinking one song sounds much like another, but the unfussy formula works well enough to warrant many repeated listens. And no song outstays its welcome. Lyrically, she's at her strongest on this set: confessional, witty and on the right side of obscure.
The opening track, Supermodel, is a catty dig at the transitory careers of overpaid catwalk stars ("the highest paid piece of ass, you know it's not gonna last...), while the girly Hatfield is at play on My Sister, describing the love/hate relationship with a fictional sibling ("I would do anything to let her know I care, but I am only talking to myself cos she isn't there"). Her wry lyrics are matched at every corner with strong hooks and basslines.
Hatfield's cutesy/tough-girl act continues in equal measures: the deliciously venomous and punchy A Dame With A Rod, on which Hatfield avenges an attack on a woman ("You're gonna rot in the ground"), sits next to the unworldly girl on Feeling Massachussetts ("Take me somewhere I really wanna go... introduce me to someone really cool"). Hatfield does twee best on Spin The Bottle, although it's a bit of a throwaway moment, a clumsy time signature and her vocal's sounding not unlike she's just inhaled a helium balloon. We should assume Hatfield wasn't taking her own story about kissing movie stars in closets at parties too seriously. It is nevertheless the most commercial cut and, given the right promotional push, could have been a hit, although it's appearance on the Reality Bites soundtrack did give it a new airing.
Standout track President Garfield - allegedly an ode to rocker Henry Rollins - is almost two songs in one: the first two minutes a slow, contemplative amble down the streets of Washington, the latter half a bass-heavy brooding review of the hero ("Neck like a tyre, iron man...I'm only human, I am weak, I want his power inside of me"). Things get darker still on the closing I Got No Idols, an intense, two-minute lament from a woman eager to stand on her own too feet.
But the record went hugely underbought, of course. For the follow up 18 months later, Hatfield was solo and with a little more angst on her plate for Only Everything. A solid set, it was more varied than Become, and could have been its equal had Fleur De Lys, Dumb Fun and Dying Proof fell on the cutting-room floor. 1998's Bed was a disappointing affair, while 2000's double whammy - the acoustic Beautiful Creature and the aggressive Total System Failure - would have been better as one, shorter album. 2004's In Exile Deo is unlikely to turn the sales tide, and she seems to have spent the last couple of years listening to Sheryl Crow records. Presumably the innocence and simplicity of early material doesn't sit comfortably with a woman in her late thirties.
Hatfield will make more great records, but the quality of Become What You Are and much of former band The Blake Babies' output seems an awfully long time ago now.
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