I’ll be honest; I completely missed the boat with Methyl Ethel. I discovered them thanks to the wonders of the internet, and I was intrigued by the praise surrounding their previous effort Everything Is Forgotten. Their second album was excellent, to say the least, so I was highly anticipating this new one titled Triage.
Thankfully the psychedelic alt-rock meets pop Aussies have delivered once again. Triage is a continuation of their sophomore effort with an even bigger focus on shimmering sounds, big hooks and emotive performances.
Its opener “Ruiner” highlights the group’s focus as its entrance is filled with glossy synths and evocative vocals. There’s a gentle backdrop of harmonies which intersect throughout the verses, building to a haunting crescendo in the chorus.
As a whole, the song is a spacious, touching and disco-infused anthem which acts not only as an explosive opener but a statement of intent. The group continue by delivering another punch to the gut with “Scream Whole”.
Whereas the opener is solemn in every way, “Scream Whole” is powerful and groovy. It’s full of funk and foot-stepping rhythms which are enhanced by a commanding vocal performance. The chorus is memorable, and the bass work throughout deserves an honouree mention, too.
Triage is such a resounding success because the group continue with their unshakeably honest and unique brand of alt-pop/rock. There’s an encapsulating nature to the record which is mostly due to the musicianship, but also because of how fresh it sounds.
We’ve undoubtedly heard similar sounds that are on display during Triage, but we’ve not had them executed and framed in such a beguiling manner. Take “Trip The Mains” as an example, at first it might sound familiar with its sunny-side up instrumentation until Webb’s vocals kick in.
The vocal melodies capture the imagination alongside the shifting, escalating and subtly eerie electronic concoction that bubbles in the background. As the song progresses, it becomes an acid trip, mainly in part to its off-kilter sonics and paranoid sounding vocals.
This is why Methyl Ethel have succeeded with this album, there’s no stripping down their sound and reinventing the wheel; they’ve delved deeper and presented what they’re good at through a kaleidoscopic lens.
“Hip Horror” demonstrates this perfectly. For a start, it wouldn’t sound amiss on Everything Is Forgotten, as it carries the grand, foreboding sound. However, there’s enough tweaking to make it sound as if it belongs to Triage.
Sonically, it fits coherently with the overall journey of the record. There’s also enough flavour to it, which adds to its artistic flair. The only downside is that it doesn’t go anywhere. If anything, it’s a great idea delivered to a good standard.
It’s safe to say that Methyl Ethel has once again created another excellent record. While it isn’t moving upwards per se, they’ve injected enough creative juices to make the continuation of Everything Is Forgotten’s sound entirely new.
Triage is a bolder and more experimental journey that shows off the band’s best parts, and that’s fine by me.
Purchase Methyl Ethel’s Triage album on iTunes here, and stream it below.
Words by Jake Gould