Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week's album is Everything Is Forgotten, the third album from Australian dream poppers Methyl Ethel, which is out on Friday.
Despite the obvious agony it can bring to the mind and body, there’s something sickly pleasing about having a fever. Miserable cold sweats and weak shaking aside, there are tiny half-seconds of weird fun in having your mind and body disrupted with a swift jack above its homeostasis. Methyl Ethel’s new album Everything Is Forgotten is a macro-dose of those delusionally enjoyable parts of a fever dream. It’s an album that makes you want to crawl out of your clammy skin, but in a way you sort of like.
And like a fever, the Perth band’s third album consistently teeters the line between wanting to bare down and give up, resulting in the audible hot anxiety of a split decision. Riddled with controlled forward motion and head-spinning wonky ’80s dream pop melodies, Everything is Forgotten nods to psych rock and electronic influence glossed in an art rock exterior.
Bouncing from influence to influence, frontman Jake Webb skates from the slumped shoegazey pop of first single “No. 28” to steady thudding electricity of tracks like “Hyakki Yakō” or “Summer Moon” with ease. Despite the stylistic ground it covers, the songs are erratic, but the album as a whole is anything but. In fact, it’s their pointed erraticness that creates the kind of sticky atmosphere which allows each track to exist together. “Groundswell,” for example, is a modern take on a more conventional brand of ’80s synthpop than some of the other tracks, but it keeps the album’s dark, sweltering tint alive, even in its most glittery moments.
In their anxieties, the songs aren’t non-committal, but rather committing to existing as a bunch of closely moving parts. “Schlager" intentionally pushes tempo with repetitive guitar syncopation that moves past drum rhythms with aching closeness, never touching. The exasperated lyrics pour out anxieties like “sighing and nervous, awake in the dark” and “who would not sympathize with a wrecking ball?” They encapsulates life’s chaos and churns it out into calculated song. Another highlight, “Ubu,” moves in a steadier direction with a rock-solid bassline and consistent beat, but maintains the mess in its amplifying repetition of vocals restlessly asking “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair? Why’d you cut your hair?”
Methyl Ethel has also mastered a strange dichotomy between glam rock influence and anxious subtlety that comprises this album. The result is an unassuming draw. They’re the party guest that shows up dressed head-to-toe in diamonds, speaks in near-poetry, but shyly refuses to make eye contact. Tracks like “Drink Wine” and “Femme Maison/One Man House” lean more toward glamour and melodic revel, but uncertainty still seeps from their cracks—in the cinematic cumulation to which “Femme” summits or in the consistent spitting synth in “Drink Wine.” If Everything is Forgotten maintains a youthful relevance in its showy alt-pop tendencies, it does even more so in its fidgety discomfort.
Methyl Ethel made an album that pushes a tense step beyond the baseline; it’s pop for odd and anxious times. Their undeniable catchy embrace acquaints you with familiarity, but their artistry spikes your temperature and all you can do bite your lip and let go. Sometimes the only way to break a fever is to ride it out, but Everything is Forgotten will assure you’ll be dancing too hard to notice when it does.
Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, the Head of Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.