There’s something about Hachiku’s debut record I’ll Probably Be Asleep that I can’t quite put my finger on. It somehow fits the early November political climate in the states that it was released into. It’s simultaneously calming and anxious, introspective and strong.
The whole record didn’t demand too much of me; it kept my attention, soothed my stress and offered a much needed break from the overwhelming fall I have been thrust into.
I’ll Probably Be Asleep arrived in my inbox the Friday after the U.S. presidential election. I listened to Hachiku’s Anika Ostendorf sing lines like “who are you and why are you screaming” while I refreshed Twitter like a madman and, somehow, it worked. The album broke through the stress-induced bubble in my brain that only wanted to listen to the songs I listened to in high school, and I promise you none of those songs were as good as these ones.
I wish I could find words to describe this album. It almost defies characterization. There is no unified theme in the lyrics, though each track deals with some sort of navigation, whether it be navigating loss, government bureaucracies, political difference, or your understanding of yourself. In every song, Ostendorf seems to be working out her own thoughts on each matter in real time. And doing it in a way that seems so cool and collected, but never detached.
“The album broke through the stress-induced bubble in my brain that only wanted to listen to the songs I listened to in high school, and I promise you none of those songs were as good as these ones.”
Ostendorf lives in Melbourne, grew up in Germany, and was born in Michigan. Which means that this record, which was released on Melbourne’s Milk! Records, was released to its home audience at the beginning of the Melbourne summer. This feels right; the album is breezy. Like a pandemic summer. It’s sunny, restrained, and just a little bit anxious. You can find this in songs like “You’ll Probably Think This Song Is About You,” which incorporates marimba sounds. “Navigating Visa B” is real catchy, with 80s sounding synths beaming in the background. It’s about the grueling process Ostendorf went through trying to extend her Australian visa, and lyrically that anxiety and frustration comes through with lines like “presume that you are wrong and is there some kind of test / you’re obnoxious at best.” All the while, tracks like these remain upbeat, despite these anxieties.
I can’t get over this record and how it fits so perfectly with this moment. Ostendorf wrote these songs over a number of years. There are not songs written for the pandemic nor are they about it, but somehow they capture this moment so well. “Shark Attack,” a song Ostendorf wrote about the death of her dog, opens “Shark attack / You’ll know how to react.” It’s this idea that some things are so sad or unexpected or just shake you in a way that leaves you unsure how to respond, and it feels really relatable right now. I know that this past year has left me that way.
“There are not songs written for the pandemic nor are they about it, but somehow they capture this moment so well.”
The title track “I’ll Probably Be Asleep” hits at a poignant part of pandemic life. This idea of missing out and this feeling like life and time is just passing by while we wait it out. The song’s chorus goes “Maybe I’ll be up for it but I’ll probably be asleep / Not quite what I expected this to be.”
Unlike Melbourne, which seems to be digging itself out of a rough few months, my pandemic summer has ended. I’m at the precipice of what is looking to be a dark winter here in Pennsylvania. It’s nice to be able to listen Hachiku’s introspection, her wit. Her calming and cheerful music reminds me that it is not so dark everywhere. I’m grateful for “I’ll Probably Be Asleep” and the sun, solace, and connection to the world it brings.
Meredith Salisbury is a freelance writer and indie bookseller based right outside of Philadelphia. They write about pop culture, music, and social media. Previously they were a social media researcher and the music director of WMUH. You can find them online @meresalisbury.