METHYL ETHEL Triage gets 9/10

Methyl Ethel

Dot Dash/Remote Control


Triage is the process of sorting and analysing to ensure that the most important parts are at the forefront. Triage is also the new album from Perth’s Methyl Ethel, and upon listening to the album – the title makes a lot of sense.

Triage has been methodically and punctually thought through. It is careful to ensure the magical essence of each song is put on a pedestal and the elements around it hold it up, add to it and do not detract from the magic. It’s like a science, a science that is based on feel, intuition and musical sagacity.

Triage is a diverse and dynamic fringe-pop triumph. Full of textures and hooks, it hones in on 80s electronica and is accompanied by Jake Webb’s compelling lyric work and unique vocals. It crackles, pops and melts in all the right places, leaving the listener both continuously entertained and intrigued. However, it still pays homage to the band’s ‘guitar’ roots with big funky baselines, guitar melodies and rampant keys throughout.

Like all Methyl Ethel albums, this is written by Jake Webb, but whilst on previous albums the production was collaborated on by someone else, on Triage, Webb has undertaken this himself. The result is a meticulous album that has been honed and crafted to perfection. Perhaps only someone who knows the essence of the songs so well, could create a finished product that is so fitting?

Whilst all of the songs are more experimental and directional than previous releases, there is also a broader range of energies. Real Tight, Scream Whole and Ruiner are rich and upbeat, whereas songs such as Post Blue, No Fighting, What About The 37 Degrees and All The Elements are ambient and sweeping. Webb uses space, textures and layers to build the songs and to create a divergent milieu that is coherent across the whole, but different all the time. As a whole, each thread comes together to create a bold, bright and often fragile tapestry.

Not only have the sounds matured and expanded, but Webb’s lyric writing has elevated to new levels. It might be the most exciting thing about the album – not only is his growth evident in compiling and orchestrating nine compelling songs – but the writing is concise, unguarded and clever. There are lines, such as “confer the how and why” (Scream Whole) and “come on and retire young, no collecting bags in your eyes” (Real Tight),  that are likely to get etched into in the minds of music fans.

The aforementioned Real Tight, as well as Hip Horror, Ruiner and Scream Whole hint at the Methyl Ethel we know well, albeit with less cryptic lyrical work as well as a more directional and daring sound.  These songs are instant earworms and prove that Webb’s knack at writing pop songs with pep and a point of difference is second to none.

Trip The Mains is a trip down nostalgia lane, drenched in synth and groovy big beats making you feel like you have been catapulted into an 80s discotheque. All The Elements is a slow burn that builds into a big steady beat, just like all good crescendos should. Post Blue is so grand and operatic, at times it sounds a little like something Muse would produce, but the driving chorus adds a Methyl touch. What About 37 Degrees is a sludgy number that nicely begins to close out the album. No Fighting is more subtle in its build, with it’s beauty transpiring in the detail that includes some world and traditional Indian music.

However it’s not just that the songs are a joy to listen to, it’s the peak inside Webb’s mind that really gives Triage it’s edge. It feels as if you get to know the man behind the songs we all love so much, thanks to the personal tone, and along with the film clips that accompany standout tracks Scream Whole and Real Tight, it makes it easy to connect and relate.

Through Triage, Methyl Ethel prove that they are a band with the skill, ingenuity and pop magic to be making music we will enjoy and appreciate for a very long time.