PC Music, in a way, is the closest thing the Western world has in response to Japan’s Vocaloid phenomenon, which has spawned dozens of virtual pop stars like Hatsune Miku, all chirping bright, glossy, (literally) robotic pop at the hands of anyone with the right software.
There’s plenty of highbrow discussion around the London music collective. Occasionally, the critiques read like roundabout justification by music snobs secretly eager to indulge in sparkly, unabashedly earnest pop and satisfy their suppressed nostalgia for late ’90s-early ’00s era bubblegum pop — but it’s somehow fine with PC Music, because it’s ‘ironic’, right?
Since “guilty pleasure” is a term that doesn’t exist in my book (my book being Britney and Lynne Spears’ A Mother’s Gift), I take all these sugary PC Music bops, like Danny L Harle‘s recent E•MO•TION-al brilliance with Carly Rae Jepsen, “Super Natural,” every bit as seriously as I would a Jessica Simpson deep cut…and that’s serious.
So does Hannah Diamond, one of the more distinct personalities (avatars?) of the PC Music collective, and certainly one of the most outspoken.
“I can definitely say I’m not taking the piss out of pop music. I listen to pop music pretty much all day. It’s not coming from a place of wanting to take the piss out of it at all,” the acutely self-aware PC Music star explained in a FADER interview, effectively shutting down the notion that this is all some sort of cynical statement about pop consumerism, as some outlets suggest.
It just ain’t that serious. (Thank God.) She shuts down a bunch of presumptions in that interview, actually — read it.
She’s a self-described photographer and image-maker (love that term), and her “hyper-real” aesthetic in her imagery is an extension of her personality, inspired by growing up watching millennium-era music videos on MTV. (She references the visual for TLC‘s “Waterfalls,” specifically, as a major inspiration.)
Diamond doesn’t deliver too often musically, dropping only one or two songs a year since 2013, including “Attachment,” “Every Night” and “Hi,” but she’s since performed around the US and recently showed up as a feature on Charli XCX‘s Vroom Vroom EP.
On Friday, Diamond returned with a new track called “Fade Away,” the first taste of an EP due out later this year, and it just might be her best work to date.
Peppering her super-vocoded, super-stretched vocals with virtual references aplenty (“I always thought I’d be the picture saved on your screen“), the singer hopelessly longs for another chance across the blippy electronic production, like a cross between the featherlight disco of Sally Shapiro and the pico-pop of Perfume. (And actually, it’s not unlike Rina Sawayama‘s dreamy, equally cyber-minded “Where U Are” thematically, which I wrote about a few months ago.)
She says the song’s “about that horrible feeling you get in the bottom of your stomach when you can tell someone’s feelings for you have changed. It’s about trying to work out if it’s because of something you did or said, and worrying about not being good enough.”
“Wish I could click undo…”
A ghost in the machine, Hannah’s melancholy voice haunts between the twinkling beats. It all feels detached, dejected and distinctly “now” — at a time when our relationships are increasingly cultivated in the digital realm.
But make no mistake: there’s real emotion lingering between the beats. After all, what’s more human than self-consciousness?
“Fade Away” was released on October 7.