Former alt-rock “It” Girl proves she’s still got it
“I stayed until the “Star Spangled Banner” played... / Then it was over,” Juliana Hatfield sings on her new album’s opener “The Fact Remains” (wait for the punchline: “I stayed too long”). Like fellow Berklee College of Music attendee Aimee Mann, Hatfield began her career 20 years ago as part of a critically acclaimed college-rock band (The Blake Babies) that disintegrated in favor of a solo career. Ten albums down the road, Hatfield has clearly learned a thing or two about songcraft, but she’s still struggling to find solace in love, using her latest album as a platform from which to dish dirt on needy guys (“Just Lust”), memorialize past relationships as one might recall favorite broken toys (“Remember November”) and generally pine about how much love hurts (two particularly compelling duets—the dark “This Lonely Love” with the Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler, and the slightly less shadowy “Such a Beautiful Girl” with Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws). The album has its moments but suffers from fussy production—“So Alone” and “Shining On” would be much better songs without all the sonic buffing and fluffing. “Your memoirs are so full of tension, well, don’t I merit a mention?” Hatfield asks in the loose-limbed “Now I’m Gone,” neatly prefiguring her own autobiography, When I Grow Up, due later this year. It’s your party, Juliana, and you can sigh if you want to.