Hazel English claims that she moved to California on “gut instinct”. That sounds like the kind of thing anyone could say to draw attention to their big relocation – but most of them won’t have upped sticks from as far afield as Australia. The Oakland-based daydream-pop prodigy’s runaway story is as sincere as it is extraordinary. When she sings that she’s “never going home again”, you sense she means it.
“Don’t wait up for me, I’m not leaving,” English announces directly after that on the chorus of the EP’s title track and opener. Tinged with wistfulness though her voice is, the overwhelming feeling given off is that she’s certain of her place in her adopted home and decidedly content there.
The rest of Never Going Home make its mark in similar fashion. Whether it’s the futility of spending our whole lives “searching for what does not exist” on ‘It’s Not Real’, or putting on on a brave face despite being “paralysed from the inside” by anxiety on synth-brimming standout and finale ‘I’m Fine’, bittersweetness is the hallmark throughout.
Much like her producer and fellow Bay Area weaver of bittersweet daydreams, Jackson Phillips, English possesses a power to transform life’s uglier realities into something beautiful and ethereal in a way those from the Golden Coast seem to have mastered better than anyone. Great white sharks have been known to visit the bay, but there must be something else in the water there.