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METHYL ETHEL Everything Is Forgotten gets 9.5/10

MethylEthel.Album

METHYL ETHEL
Everything Is Forgotten

Dot Dash/4AD/Remote Control

9.5/10

Methyl Ethel’s first album under the watchful gaze of the legendary 4AD label steps things up in a big way. That’s nothing against Jake Webb and co’s nearly as impressive debut Oh Inhuman Spectacle. But that record’s successes and 4AD’s closer involvement this time appear to have given frontman and studio whiz Webb the freedom to take his talents widescreen and produce some simply incredible music.

Some of the credit here must go to super-producer James Ford (Florence and the Machine, Foals, Arctic Monkeys). While Webb again made most of the demos himself here at home in Perth, Ford has helped him take his sound to the big stage.

Whether that’s heard on the gleaming electronics of opener Drink Wine, the epic white noise finales on Femme Maison One Man House and Act Of Contrition, or the more abstract arrangements of shorter second half constructs such as the creepy Summer Moon, it’s not the stadium sound we’re used to from Ford so much as his ability to make electronic parts sound organic and vice versa.

Perhaps that stems as much from his Simian Mobile Disco inventions as anything, but one suspects it’s more to do with the chemistry between Webb and Ford in the studio, combining their talents.

Webb’s songwriting has also evolved in exciting ways. Most of the time he allows the songs to expand and contract in the directions their melodies and narrative want to, rather than follow simple verse-chorus structures. Lead single Ubu is one such example with its addictive “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair,” hook more of an endless outro than a chorus on repeat.

The opening six tracks all come ridiculously close to perfection, and each one could lay claim to being the heir apparent to breakthrough hit Twilight Driving. Drink Wine continues Methyl Ethel’s tendency for standout openers, following Oh Inhuman Spectacle’s Idee Fixe. First single No.28 is an understated gem that’s perhaps been overshadowed by Ubu on the radio, but remains a highlight in context of the album.

And L’Heure des Sorcieres is surely a future single set to drive radio announcers mad as they try to get their mouths around its French pronunciation. The “I’m an actor” refrain might just have you believing in the drama while you sing along.

In the end Webb is the victim of his own genius. The only thing preventing Everything Is Forgotten from being a 10/10 masterpiece is that the front half is so good it’s impossible for the back half to keep up, and as a result the record’s second, more experimental side, feels a little out of balance with the front’s relentlessly big indie rock moments.

But that doesn’t take away from the frequent glimpses of talent that reveal Webb as the obvious next Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), that other bedroom-production genius putting Perth on the map. Here’s hoping they’re starting an ongoing trend, because it feels like a golden age for WA music is just beginning.

HARVEY RAE

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