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Hannah Lew makes music when she has a bone to pick with emotions — there’s no disputing it. The San Franciscan post-punk artist introduced her project Cold Beat with an album about grief and isolation, and followed it up with a sophomore release ripe with frustration about the changing landscapes of her home. But her third Cold Beat release on her own record label Crime On The Moon yields the outward criticism and directs it inward to give us her most personal account yet.
Chaos By Invitation begins with the vulnerable confession “In Motion,” a synth-powered and dreamy track that asks, “How can I hold on when everything’s in motion?” It sets the tone for everything to follow, which chronicles a detached being confronting betrayal, distance and change. Each of the album’s 11 songs showcases the vulnerabilities exposed when taking a risk on human connection.
But the strength of such human emotion is contrasted by Lew’s cold and cutting synthesizers; they drive Chaos by Invitation. Never before has Cold Beat sounded so electronic. Since Lew values fun while performing her songs live, her tracks are overwhelmingly upbeat despite their darkness. She molds her lyrical motifs of ice and chains with mechanical vocals across the album, as on the monotone “Chainmaille” and “Don’t Touch.” Even the album cover evokes machinery, strongly resembling a QR code.»