Methyl Ethel – Triage
- Sean Greenhorn
- 14 February 2019
Australian act's third full length continues frontman Jake Webb's lone vision
Originally the solo project of frontman Jake Webb, Australia's Methyl Ethel have been fleshed out into a four-piece live band following the modest success of their debut album Oh Inhuman Spectacle and its follow-up Everything Is Forgotten. On Triage, the act's third full length album, the live group sound can be heard more than ever, even while Webb's lone vision (and voice) defines every decision taken, for better or worse.
Album opener 'Ruiner' is a propulsive start, with a jaunty synth line that floats on top of huge motorik drums, promising a scale and urgency that the act has only fleetingly hinted at before. Mid-album track 'Trip the Mains' is another clear highlight, matching a funky 80s groove with a twisty chorus that builds and builds. Tracks like these, along with singles 'Scream Whole' and 'Real Tight', showcase the way that live instrumentation has influenced their sound. However, the album fails to capitalise on these high points and many of the tracks rely on the same trick of simple electronic synth-pop obscured by some fancy basslines and vocal hooks.
It's a shame, as Methyl Ethel certainly employ similar dynamics that comparable psych-pop acts have utilised to worldwide success (fellow Australians Pond and Tame Impala immediately jump to mind), and they certainly have a way with a catchy melody. However, their refusal to deviate from the playbook that Webb developed at the band's inception ultimately acts as their downfall. Taken individually, each track presents enough quirks to pique the listener's interest. Collectively, however, the songs begin to blur into one another, the colourful palette becoming more of a rainbow sludge. One feels that if Webb and his band would push themselves to something new, challenging themselves and their listeners, they could really become more of a global concern.
Out Fri 15 Feb on 4AD.