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Hannah Diamond’s pop vision comes into full focus on Perfect Picture

"Perfect Picture"

Release date: 06 October 2023
Hannah Diamond – Perfect Picture – Album Artwork
29 September 2023, 13:30 Written by Matthew Kent

Diamond calls it “a multi-layered self portrait,” but it’s more than that; Perfect Picture speaks volumes to her work across the digital landscape cementing her status as a cult icon behind both the camera and a microphone.

Branding has always been a huge part of Hannah Diamond’s work, whether she’s running point as creative director or snapping high-gloss portraits for other artists who are enamoured by her visual language. Her music has always been paired with her own visuals and while this campaign is no different in that sense, something else has changed. Across its 12 tracks, Diamond presents her vision of pop perfectionism, having spent a lot of time in the studio with the album’s executive producer David Gamson discussing what truly makes a perfect pop song.

Their answer was that to achieve perfection you must capture the essence of an artist, and that’s exactly what Perfect Picture does – and far better than any of Diamond’s previous work for that matter. Thematically it dissects the performative aspects of her career, life online, and her experience of girlhood with the help of Gamson and a slew of other collaborators who thrive in the space between pop’s underground and mainstream like Sundara Karma’s Oscar Pollock and the Dorian Electra and Rina Sawayama collaborator Marcus Andersson.

There’s a self-assuredness that runs throughout the project. Crisp and crystalline, the cohesiveness alone make Diamond’s latest re-imagining of pop pretty much perfect, but it's her attention to detail that elevates it even higher. Lyrically she goes deeper than before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the album takes a dark turn – in fact its sound is bright and bold. Littered with double entendres about living without filters, the impact of screen time, and pixels – lots of pixels – the album and Diamond’s writing is acutely self-aware.

“Lip Sync” is the peak of this; a Carly Rae Jepsen-sized pop anthem that deals with depression and feelings of dissociation, and where Diamond dreams of one day being the real thing. In part inspired by naysayers who have pointed out she doesn’t have the strongest voice, it’s really a performance of a performance. Combining the assumptions of others with her very real experiences, its synthetic sound is another layer, another mask used to protect herself and project a different version of Hannah Diamond.

The twisted sugar-sweet melodies of “Affirmations” really highlight Diamond’s ability to combine experimental and commercial sensibilities, turning her ‘wall of self esteem’ at home into a song after a shift in camera angle accidentally revealed it to Gamson while on a Zoom call. On “Impossible” she reflects on the impossibility of the entire project’s foundations in perfectionism, and “Poster Girl” deftly deals with doubt and insecurity as does “No FX” – which is an instant standout and quite rightly arrives as an additional single alongside the album release.

The album’s closing track “Unbreakable” delivers one final uplifting message and like her namesake gem, Diamond finds new, irrefutable strength. Its final line; “sometimes good things come from an ending,” feels especially poignant following the recent news that PC Music – the collective who have been instrumental in HD’s rise – announced the closing down of their label after a decade of operations. More importantly, listeners revelling in this ending will take away a new understanding of who Diamond is as an artist, as well as a swell of anticipation for the next chapter in Diamond’s ongoing digital domination.

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