You’re probably lacking a heart altogether if you don’t feel yours break the first time you hear M.T. Hadley’s single ‘Janet’. The immediately striking r n b/pop track is an ode to Hadley’s mother who passed away due to cancer a year before he wrote the song. Two years after that release Empty, Hadley’s debut full length, is finally out and is as hauntingly catchy as his debut single.
The album is laden with 80s-influenced pop hooks from ‘Lonely People’ to ‘Roof Party’ and Hadley wastes no time in introducing them with nearly every song coming in pretty much immediately, without an intro. The effect is that lines detailing Hadley’s total nihilism, such as “nothing ever happens and nothing good will ever happen” on ‘Reticent’ and “You will feel nothing but heart ache and doom” on ‘Rattle’, almost become inviting as sentiments. Hadley has found a way of telling you that things are very bleak whilst somehow not depressing you and the result is a kind of catharsis.
The glacial catchiness of Hadley’s instrumentation combined with the pathos of his graceful falsetto is what makes the album as a whole so striking. Hadley might be painting an image of a dark, nihilistic world but he does so with a gold brushstroke that serves to highlight the darkness further or perhaps even to mock it.