Psychedelic synths, poetic lyrics, and gender-fluid vocals define Methyl Ethel’s sophomore album, Everything Is Forgotten. The trio grew out of a small house in Fremantle, where front man Jake Webb started out home-recording, and in 2015, their debut Oh Inhuman Spectacle was born. It was a dreamy, eccentric effort that put Methyl Ethel on the map and just two years later, Methyl Ethel have evolved to find their niche in dark surrealist tones, a sound that makes Everything Is Forgotten a piece of art.
Opening track ‘Drink Wine’ layers enticing beats with Webb’s androgynous vocals to set the ambience for the rest of the album. ‘Ubu’ steps up the rhythm, and the snappy end mantra ‘why’d you have to go and cut your hair?’ is silly, but it brings a bit of fun to the record. The song was influenced by Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play Ubu Roi which satirises greed, inspiring the fantastical elements of the song and lyrics such as ‘now you cut yourself off from your friends, it’s not just a personality thing.’
Everything Is Forgotten is full of disarming moments, like the guitar-focused serenade ‘No. 28’ which exhibits Methyl Ethel’s poetic lyrical talent (‘a symphony in a very beautiful car accident/now we’re mangled up together’). ‘Act of Contrition’ is stripped back, the slow guitar background cushioning Webb’s eerie vocals to create something quite chilling. The fantastical dance-worthy number ‘L’Heure des Sorcières’ (meaning The Witches’ Hour in French) is also on the darker side. The whirring synths are gentle but resounding, and Webb’s vocal work is most stunning. ‘Groundswell’ is another highlight from the album, with pulsing synths that build up a psychedelic pace towards the end, like the equally electric ‘Femme Maison/One Man House.’ ‘Schlager’ ends the album, not with a bang, but with a whimper. The word “schlager” is German, referring to a style of music something like a sentimental pop ballad; it’s an odd choice to have a such a subdued ending to the whirlwind of sounds present throughout the rest of the record, as it leaves you with the feeling that something is missing. It is an elegant song, but its dreamy character might have made it a better fit on Oh Inhuman Spectacle.
Despite its unfitting close, the Perth boys have created a beautifully refined second album, adding a refreshing uniqueness to the indie-pop genre.
Words by Zoe Tongue
This review first appeared in print volume 88 edition 3 SOAP.