Blurring the lines between pop, shoegaze, hip hop and grunge, Texas-born, New York-based musician Hannah Jadagu‘s debut album Aperture is a bright, kaleidoscopic collection of heart-on-sleeve indie anthems. Released via Sub Pop, the record’s title – defined as both “an opening, hole or gap” and as the “space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument” – hints at the way the artist processes and filters her musings on family ties, personal growth and epiphanies about life, love and religion. The result is a shimmering collection of guitar-based tunes that reflect Jadagu’s vibrant talent as a songwriter.
The follow up to her 2021 EP, What Is Going On?, also released via Sub Pop, Jadagu’s debut full length is a real step up. Her simple but effective method of using Garageband iOS and her iPhone 7 to produce and record her five track EP in her bedroom, has been subbed in for time in a professional recording studio alongside French songwriter and producer Max Robert Baby. Whilst her environment and set up may have changed, the result remains the same: Aperture deftly captures Jadagu’s personal-yet-universal approach to songwriting; it just feels more polished and precise.
“Every track on this album, except for ‘Admit It’, was written first on guitar, which is an instrumental throughline,” Jadagu explains about the process. “The blanket of synths I use throughout helps me move between sensibilities. There’s rock Hannah, there’s hip-hop Hannah, and so on. I didn’t want any of the songs to sound too alike.” This desire to thread her collective influences and experiences together underscores Aperture.
From the tender, slow-building opener ‘Explanation’, to the combination of hip hop-inspired beats, ambient guitar tones and buzzier riffs that cut through on ‘Warning Sign’, right up to her buoyant ruminations on final track ‘Your Thoughts Are Ur Biggest Obstacle’, Jadagu’s charming vocals lead her navigation through genres and emotional learning curves. The songwriter’s self doubt melts away when it’s pushed through a vocoder on the latter, allowing listeners to drift off into the ether with her.
There are two tracks that stand out on the record: ‘What You Did’ and ‘Admit It’. The driving beats and jangly, reverb-laden riffs on the first are totally infectious, enhanced by Jadagu’s cutting lyrics and bittersweet vocal delivery. The latter is a hazy, humble ode to her older sister, who Jadagu refers to as “the blueprint”. She made the reluctant songwriter join the local children’s chorus when they were younger, an experience which Jadagu says she “hated”, but was core to her learning how to harmonize, as well as being able to recognise and write melody.
Reflections on her upbringing – which are also underscored by her relationship to, and growing distance from Christianity – permeate Aperture, simultaneously giving the record its intimate-yet-omnipresent feeling. Whether she’s working through feelings of frustration on ‘Say It Now’, or drifting away on a cloud of melancholic bedroom-pop on ‘Dreaming’, Jadagu’s shimmering guitar tones, catchy beats and emotive lyrics are the bittersweet soundtrack to growth in all its forms.
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Photo Credit: Sam Wilbert