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This Sad-Pop Banger is the Emotional Apex of PC Music

To the haters, it may seem like PC Music have been tossing shit against a wall, but with Hannah Diamond's “Fade Away” they’ve finally created their Mona Lisa.

by Ryan Bassil
12 October 2016, 3:16pm

There are two types of evanescence. The first is a once-popular American rock band fronted by Amy Lee, who released the ethereal, nightmarishly beautiful single "Bring Me To Life". The second comes from the Latin word evanescence, meaning "to disappear or vanish". It's a haughty, pompous word – the historical language of Ancient Rome is the preferred dialect of Oxbridge students who have their perfectly angled cheek-bones up their ass  – yet it's important because there is arguably no linguistic equivalent. It's like "schadenfreude", or "nostalgia", or "fuck". 

Evanescence defines the uncomfortable feeling of losing someone. But it's also more nuanced than that. It represents the experience of your memories of that person fading into obscured vision, your very recollections of them expired from reach. As though they've been permanently deleted from your mental hard drive. It is the coalescence of death, heartbreak, loss and longing translated into one defiant word; and in the case of Hannah Diamond's latest release "Fade Away", one triumphant song.

I know what you're thinking: those who have given the PC Music label a cursory, pedestrian look over the past few years may believe it to be sacrilege, perhaps even hyperbolic, to write about this label's music with any emotional sincerity. In the two or three years since their inception, releases on the PC Music label have been branded as soulless, vapid and empty – inasmuch as they depict a generational emotional void or that they are lacking in substance. Aside from hits like Danny L Harle's "Flowers" and "Hey QT", the latter has been true of certain tracks; like GFOTY's "USA" (an abhorrent illustration of an abhorrent consumer culture) or Dux Content's "Snow Globe" (a song about a relationship that ostentatiously uses the prosaic metaphor of the world's dumbest christmas decoration). But Diamond is different. Her songs have always concerned themselves with the nuance of permanence and the emotional longing that drives us toward it. ​​

​"Fade Away" begins in a way that's typical of her post-pop work. The instrumental lightly bubbles and sparkles, hinting at the breeze-ridden trance of Chicane's "Saltwater" and the atmospheric, dreamlike auditory semantics of what one could imagine the Cocteau Twin's "Heaven or Las Vegas" would sound like were it created by an immaculate cyberpunk with access to a laptop. These sounds are enough to emote an unspeakable feeling, but then the chorus hits. "Day after day, you fade away from me", Diamond sings. "Baby please, just stay. Don't fade away". This is the evanescence. This is the sound of detaching as it's stretched out across time to its bitter, brutal and longing end.​​

Diamond has been threatening a song like this for some time. Her debut single "Pink and Blue", was an innocent yet deep track that detailed the cumulative uncertainty, yearning and desire that can be best described as having a requited crush. "We look good in pink and blue," she sings, imagining a colour-coordinated future relationship, "you love me, maybe it's true". It's simplistic in that it sits at the root of what we think about when the perhaps irrational idea of loving someone endlessly enters one's head halfway through the first date.

Her follow up singles centered on similar thematics. "Attachment" spoke to the idea of "forever"; "Every Night" described the intoxicating and enthralling pull of the honeymoon period, as Diamond sings "I want to see you every night, and feel your heartbeat next to me". Her other release from this year, "Hi", starts to focus on the darker side of these feelings, as Diamond details sending ignored texts and feeling alone. These songs are potent in how raw their messages are, yet they're often fixated on the new, the dream, the exhilarating thrill of attraction and it being close enough to touch. Her new track "Fade Away" excels because it focuses on the exact opposite.

This track is strictly about the breakdown of a relationship. The line: "The way I make you feel / Alive, but so dead dead inside" expertly illustrates the moment when a couple desperately cling to the coattails of an imagined future as it slowly erodes away into a lifeless spectre of self-doubt, desperation, and sadness. By capturing this rawness, with little more than a nuance in tone and a simplistic yet deep chorus, "Fade Away" manages to be universal and open to interpretation, while also ostensibly centring on one concept. It is the first time they have subverted the pop formula and actually created something that rivals the classic pop songs of yesteryear from places like AG Cook's beloved Cheiron Studios​.​

For all the talk of PC Music being pop's next big thing and for all the subsequent detraction since they started selling energy drinks, Hannah Diamond's "Fade Away" proves they may still be able to grasp the once unthinkable dream and make it reality. Despite all their wrongdoings and missteps, this track posits that PC Music's next move could surmount the past and the label will enter a grand, strong, new epoch. Or maybe the dream is fading away and this is that one final reach. Who fucking knows? It's only pop music, after all. And Hannah Diamond is very good at it.

You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter​.​​

Tagged:
Music
Noisey
POP
pop music
PC Music
Hannah Diamond
GFOTY
Max Martin
A.G. Cook
Danny L Harle
hey QT
fade away