Album Reviews

Album Review: Methyl Ethyl - Triage (4AD)

Simon William Todd

Perth’s Methyl Ethyl finish off their first triptych of albums that dichotomize the ins and out of relationship on Triage. Drama and fallout ignite in a mix of breezy, coastal-driving synth pop, and darker, more introspective and memorable aural reflections of fucking love up.

Starter for 10 (9 tracks actually), Ruiner, bounces along infectiously, with Adam Antian drums. Lingering beneath the synth pads, which defiantly break through the clouds, as if touched by Jesus, lies a magnificent, yet self-flagellation lyrical earworm: “I’m a ruiner / That’s not good enough /That's not good enough”

Such menacing lyrical snippets permeate the sunshine. Perhaps it's too consistently sunny in Perth to get that morose, but the gloom of bedsit indie self-reflection is perhaps what makes this band stand above what could be a carbon copy of, say, Empire of the Sun.

Any worries that this might become a ‘feel-good-by-numbers’ bargain bin album fade away on magnum opus, Post-Blue, which has real fucking chops. This is a band that’s doing more than the drive-time airplay singles. Like Scissor Sisters’ slide from cod-camp to haunting tragedy, this is a great album track that is worth investing in.

It builds and spirals. It lingers and haunts.

“Come back to me / I’m flying away from you”, pleads songwriter and singer, Jake Webb. Among the trip-hoppy beat, warm strings and blocked piano chords, you wonder if it's a departure towards the afterlife or a once in a lifetime chemical ride. There's a lovely perfect cadence at the end, which, instead of a fade out, is a very pleasing resolution, and a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Japanese-Koto-sounding All the Elements exudes that summertime cool again. But, kudos overall, to the mix of light and dark.

Methyl Ethyl can pile on the summertime synths to wrestle you from your fetal-dented mattress, but they can also bring you humanly back, to the gloriously harsh reality of adult relationships.

A lovely touch of Hammond raises Real Tight from M83 pastiche, as does the returning lyrical theme that all does not bode well. “I don't feel right but / I tuck you in real tight / I know you're gonna sleep tonight”. It really is my cup of sinister tea.

Disco synth Lionel Ritchie and Enya threaten on Trip the Mains and Scream Whole, but with Webb’s falsetto, all is forgiven. It's to die for.

Swan Song No Fighting continues with your man's illustrious voice, ends proceedings and make you wanna rewind. Albeit pick n mixing, the downers are standouts - alone at home - compared to the slight simulacra poppy numbers people wind their windows down at traffic lights for.

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Released: 15 Feb 2019

Written By: Simon William Todd After loitering on the periphery of the London indie scene in the 1990s, Simon hot-footed it to Aotearoa where he loves his family, English language teaching and writing swan songs. He is a keen follower of Tāmaki’s maunga, enjoying rough and smooth basalt alike. A gig and album reviewer and now radio DJ as well, Simon champions the seedier side of electronic pop and indie rock.