Methyl Ethel: Triage (4AD)

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Real Tight
Methyl Ethel: Triage (4AD)

Their location (Perth in Western Australia) and the band name (which brings to mind Nick Cave/Grinderman's raucous Depth Charge Ethyl) might conjure up some pretty brittle and aggressive.

But as we've noted in previous reviews of this project of Jake Webb, there's something a lot more glam-poise and danceable electro-influenced dance pop going on here (as on the Prince-like Real Tight) than you might expect.

Big and bouncy bass propels many of these songs behind Webb's airy, almost falsetto vocals; there are fragile emotions and youthful uncertainties on show (All the Elements which also aims for heroic funk-lite, No Fighting); smart and expansive Eighties pop which eases towards the cleverer end of yacht-rock (Trip the Mains); a kind of gender-fluid lyric of fear and rescue on Hip Horror; the theatrically melodramatic Post-Blue which is the standout . . .

If there's a problem here it's that too often Webb sacrifices the certainty of a song for the seduction of the sonic texture and aching emotion.

They might never be household names this side of the Tasman but over three albums Webb and his fellow travelers have staked out an idiosyncratic and enjoyable territory of their own, and it is quite colourful out of the shadows of self-doubt.

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