Triage is the aptly named third album from Jacob Webb’s pleasure project Methyl Ethel formed out of the decimation of his rock band Sugarpuss.
Borrowing heavily from the glittery pop of the 1980s and soundscape artistes like Tame Impala, Webb spins a web of fluttering melodies with a surprising darkness. This is perfectly captured in stand out tune ‘Scream Whole’ which highlights the song-writers ability to use silence and a cut up tracks track to leave you in a state suspension only to be rewarded with the warm hug of a climax when everything finally falls into place.
Whilst Webb has definitely not lost his flair for dark pop, the decision to self-produce has significantly hindered the cohesiveness of the LP, especially when compared to 2017’s Everything is Forgotten which was under the guidance of the incredible musical puppet master James Ford.
Sure, there are three or four hidden gems which radiate indie sunlight, yet these are contradicted by dark cinematic compositions which force their way through fruitless walls of unnecessary sound. The mere fact that the masterpiece ‘Trip The Mains’, a somewhat unusual but catchy crossover between The Human League and The Cure, is even on the same album as the heavy handed ‘Hip Horror,’ whose excessive repetition and over layering stamps is like a dementor sucking out the happiness from the audio-sphere, is extraordinary.
As a cohesive work the whole album leaves the listener simply confused. Even the decision to put ‘Ruiner’ as the first track seems deluded. Whilst being one of the few songs with an actual lyrical message, it’s too just much. For example, the short bridge consisting of a literal harmonising choir is more suited to an excessive movie fight scene than an opener about being not good enough.
I understand where Webb was trying to go with Triage, his musical talent is beyond evident as he manages to get a studio sound from his Perth bedroom, yet it’s a shame that sometimes an excessive desire for a heavy texture drags songs to the bottom of the sea.