Perth Australia’s Methyl Ethel continue to explore meaty subjects through vibrant sounds on Are You Haunted? Their fourth LP challenges us to take a ghost tour of our personal history, conjuring ideas of memory, past friends, and paths not taken.
Despite its profound themes, Are You Haunted? is palatably packaged with playful riffs and experimental arrangements, lending the album a spirit of vitality. In this way, frontman and producer extraordinaire Jake Webb allows us to compulsively consume one track after the next, despite its heavy themes. One such tasty morsel is “Proof,” a song driven by a propulsive ostinato that speaks of today’s stretchy fabrics of ‘truth’ that make up our collective reality. Riffing on the idea of fake versus real, apathy and outrage, the infectious and groovy track teams Webb with fellow Aussie artist Stella Donnelly. Lyrics like “people walking backwards everyday” playfully lambasts a rising culture of wilful ignorance against truth.
Webb’s voice rises above the mix on tracks like “Ghosting” against rippling piano. Inherently emotional and soaring in range, the frontman’s pure, quavering falsetto adds yet another layer to his evocative themes. Combining (often) dark and (always) thoughtful lyrics with unexpected instrumentation or obscure samples, Methyl Ethel’s music reflects the claustrophobic experience of our contemporary living. Notably, “Neon Cheap” sees richly textured ear-wormy melodies hint at the rife restlessness and angst of the modern, overstimulated world.
Entrancing and emotive, Are You Haunted? hooks its listeners and urges you to unravel over repeated listens. Pertinent to our current moment of uncertainty and introspection, Methyl Ethel are as assured and idiosyncratic as ever.