Methyl Ethel – Triage

'Triage' confirms Methyl Ethel to be a band consistent not only in style but quality also.
Label: 4AD
Released: 15th February 2019
Rating: ★★★

The brainchild of writer/producer/performer Jake Webb, Methyl Ethel has, in recent years, been met with a wave of success that has not only seen the band heralded back home in Australia, but also, largely thanks to their hit anthem ‘Ubu’, catapulted them to deserved recognition across the globe. 

With third album ‘Triage’ following a similar formula to its predecessor (2017’s ‘Everything is Forgotten’), the record is once again driven by its synth-heavy approach, with an abundance of catchy riffs and memorable intros – many that wouldn’t seem out of place in an 80s French nightclub – scattered across nearly every song. This is seen immediately on the record’s opener ‘Ruiner’, which quickly followed by lead single ‘Scream Whole’ sets a somewhat kaleidoscopic tone for the rest of the album, layers being built upon layers to create a polyphonic texture of sounds, before being suddenly dismantled to allow Webb’s vocals to become isolated and vulnerable. 

Webb has drawn attention to the fact that he has tried to find closure on his personal grievances on this record and this is apparent not only in the more sombre, restrained moments on the album, such as in ‘Post-Blue’ or ‘What About The 37?’, but also in the reflective nature of his lyrics. The album title itself refers to the process of determining what is most important in life and ultimately results in an examination of the tumultuous ongoing journey of coming of age. Nevertheless, all the joy of this record is still to be found in the instrumentation and, while at times occasionally repetitive, ensures this is one of those projects that is pleasingly difficult to pigeonhole (we’re settling somewhere near surrealist neo-psychedelic pop…). 

As for being only nine tracks long, it also joins an exclusive club; granted this is a club no one really acknowledges or talks about, but is still in fact home to the likes of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ and The Rolling Stones ‘Let It Bleed’. While ‘Triage’ likely won’t be regarded in quite as high esteem as these classics, it is a pleasing effort nonetheless and confirms Methyl Ethel to be a band consistent not only in the style of their output but in the quality also.

Dominic Allum

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