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Juliana Hatfield | Weird

The singer-guitarist keeps to herself on her surprisingly energetic 17th album.

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“I’m staying in,” Juliana Hatfield announces seconds into her 17th solo studio album Weird. Who can blame her? The world is a soul-sucking cesspool of empty consumerism and naked greed. Politics is a horror show that will send you into spasms of despair and rage. People are liars and thieves who just want to use you and lose you. And love is nothing but a manufactured mirage that vanishes before your eyes. Staying in instead of dealing with all that doesn’t sound that weird at all. Hell, when you think about it, it’s amazing any of us ever leave the house. Clearly, Hatfield has spent plenty of time thinking about it over the past little while. Just as clearly, she’s figured out a few things: Like the fact “you can do anything you want when you don’t belong to anyone.” That’s exactly what she does on this 11-track set. Even better, she does it with more energy, enthusiasm and undiluted joy than you might expect from an album that basically consists of introversion and misanthropy set to music. This is no shades-drawn pity party; it’s the sound of someone realizing they’re better off as a party of one. And it’s a noisy party. The guitars gnash and grind with chunky riffs and sizzling solos. The drums bounce and bash. The melodies are sweet and strong, the choruses catchy, the vibe scrappy and the overall mood relaxed, playful and loose. Truth be told, it’s one of her most easily enjoyable and accessible discs in years. Turns out when Hatfield is by herself, she just might be her best self — or at least in good company. So as long as the supplies hold out, maybe the best thing for her to do is just lock the door, crank up the headphones and block out the world. Works for me.