JULIANA HATFIELD - Beautiful Creature

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"4 stars. Considering that Juliana Hatfield hadn't been a serious contender for either the alt-rock charts or critical acclaim since 1995's Only Everything, her simultaneous release of two new albums in the spring of 2000 was slightly puzzling. Surely, her dedicated cult would purchase both at once, but it was too much music for anyone outside of her hardcore following. To her credit, Beautiful Creature and its sibling Total System Failure was not one album spread over two lengthy records, but two albums with their own distinctive characters. Beautiful Creature is a return to classic, Hey Babe-era Hatfield, whereas Total System Failure is a loud rock album. It was almost as if Hatfield couldn't decide which approach would make for a stronger comeback in 2000, so she put them both out. Of the two, Beautiful Creature is not only the superior record, it's the best album she's made since made since the heyday of Hey Babe. Melodic, wistful, whimsical, reflective, yet clever, the album showcases Hatfield at her peak, crafting fragile, endearing post-jangle pop songs that reveal themselves shyly and sweetly. Her girlish voice and almost painfully introspective vantage may still be an acquired taste, but she hasn't sounded as focused and consistently tuneful as she has here in many a year."- AMG