Discovering a record that actually makes you feel something - as if the stars are aligned and everything is in its right place - is a rare occurrence. 2017 is living proof of this. Between the triumphantly brutal returns of artists such as Father John Misty, Japandroids or Cloud Nothings, expectations seem to rise as the actual quality of the music swiftly declines. It's a modern day tragedy of the commons, really. Artists assume there's an endless supply of artistic freedom, and they hold back for years, attempting their shot at their magnum opus, but the brutal truth of the matter is that sometimes their time has already passed. Within that time of day-dreaming and swimming in the pool of positive critiques, other artists come out of nowhere, and prove that even if they are in fact a little new to the game, they still have something to say. Sometimes, and this is usually more common, their debut might fall a little short. They are swept under the rug of the has-beens and the dreamers, living a life full of regret and missed opportunities. However, there comes a time where one of these dreamers, one of these up-and-comers that aspire to be as great as the bands that influenced them, come forth with something truly captivating. It exceeds all expectations, and brings about somebody we didn't know we needed.

One artist that falls into this scarce category is Hazel English. Following her 2016 EP Just Give In, English moved to Oakland, signed to indie giants Polyvinyl, and embarked on a nearly sold out tour through Europe, North America, and Australia, her home country. As the dust had settled after her supremely low-key EP, English teamed up with fellow Oakland-based synth-pop vet Day Wave, and recorded Just Give In / Never Going Home, a continuation of her 2016 EP and a proper full-length for Polyvinyl. Within this release, English presents perfectly orchestrated dream pop, accompanied by vivid lyricism straight out of her creative writing journal, a career she was pursuing before realizing how musically fluent she really was.

Channeling her inner anxieties with extremely timely yet aesthetically pleasing hooks, Just Give In / Never Going Home makes for a perfect exploration through the brilliance that English spews out with every song. Thus she creates an efficient way to direct her insecurities into something positive, if not wondrous.

What's so unique about Hazel English, other than her sixth sense for ridiculously illustrative song writing, is the music she composes to match it. It's dream like, but she grabs ahold of her ability to escape the semi-boring trend of dream pop with deeply layered synths and guitars. In a sense, English relishes in the simplicities of the so-called genre and exceeds expectations of her predecessors. To say that Just Give In / Never Going Home is a breakthrough debut would be a harsh understatement. Passion is dripping from every track, and her artistic ambitions are found within every second of the release. There's no room to yawn at this breed of dream-pop - it's soothing, but somehow keeps you on the edge, washing you away with emotions that are both riveting and relaxing.

As the album brushes gently from song to song, English wholeheartedly embodies the zeitgest of 2010's indie-pop and chill-wave. This is specifically brought about on tracks such as 'That Thing' and 'Love Is Dead', as her timeless hooks seem fitting for any decade post-1960s. It's rare moments like these when all faith is restored in modern indie music, and the universe finally seems balanced, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. On 'It's Not Real', English explores reality, and the mind's ability to play tricks on itself. It's her most guitar-oriented song, one stuffed with poppy chords that avoids too much synth, diversifying the album so that you're always left wanting more - and more she gives. 'Other Lives' is a carefully selected opener, slowly introducing you to the world of hazy days and lucid dreaming that English has escaped to.

The real trouble for Hazel English is whether she'll be capable of following up Just Give In / Never Going Home. Not that she doesn't have the talent for it - she has clearly proved her worth with one record, when other artists take decades to leave their mark in the world of harsh critical reception and internet trolls - but it has to be difficult to top a piece of music that has been simmering in your head for years. It's every artist's worst mistake; taking too long to follow up, not waiting long enough and rushing their career, or simply releasing an underwhelming project. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for Hazel English. Although you may be wanting much more from English - as do most of her listeners - it's that time to consume Just Give In / Never Going Home in massive quantities, and to sit back and enjoy one of the strongest records of the year.