Methyl Ethel might not forge anything very unique in their introspection, yet their power to possess still manages to yield results.
Everything Is Forgotten delves in on identity without bearing much fruit. When Methyl Ethel get introspective, they hardly differentiate from alt-indie sounds of a band like Phoenix or the simplistic electronics of a group such as Christine and the Queens. Methyl Ethel’s quirk even finds them sounding like a more dazzling version of the Format. Despite all this, the Perth band’s sophomore effort manages to glow with its sweet and glittery electronic tracks, pausing from introspection to begin dancing.
The highlight of Everything Is Forgotten is its vocal textures. Though the rhythm and shape of Jake Webb’s vocals produce variety -- the band could have easily settled for clean, straightforward passages -- it is the intertwining of vocal tracks that make the album a pleasurable listen. It is the energetic feel that captivates, rather than some cliche lyrics. The instrumentation of Methyl Ethel swings on each spectrum, from the light of a sunrise to the darkness of a gritty night. This hardly adds variety within a genre that heralds its bleakest darks and glowing lights. The album, therefore, relies on the power of textures.
“Ubu” is where that concentrated strength exists; it enters the stage with a snap and swagger, bringing its chorus in a way that would pay off in the long run.
“Why’d you have to go and cut your hair?” Webb sings, implying a thought of identity to a silhouette he claims to know. The track has the air of mystery that listeners want to stealthily follow, especially when the vocals blend by the last third of the song. “Drink Wine” and “Hyakki Yakō” also cherish such power, with the latter relying on a snake-charmer rhythm that possesses.
Though not as strong, the band also have the ability to conjure an atmosphere. “Act of Contrition”, in its ballad-like tone, gives the feeling of both outer space and the spaces between things simultaneously. So, too, is an atmosphere created within “Summer Moon”, where a windy breeze soars over the sounds of the sea.
When the energy wears thin, the album’s journey becomes too lax to captivate. “Femme Maison/One Man House” lacks the motivation to be more than an on-the-road track with the scent of the Format. “L’Heure des Sorcieres” has a fizzy electronic groove that feels faintly gothic. With each heavy-handed vocalizing of “I am an actor, baby”, the song feels like a claim of superiority that is not subtle. Whether it is cutting one’s hair, feeling like an actor, or wanting to dress like another (“Summer Moon”), Methyl Ethel’s look at identity feels tired and tried.
“Ubu” becomes the jumping point for new beginnings, despite it lacking the air of genuineness. Bands like Christine and the Queens and Mother Mother have attempted the same swagger-filled beats that Methyl Ethel have tried on Everything Is Forgotten, and each has successfully made a jam-worthy song. However, within the genre of indie, the same swagger groove tends to be artificial, and the same soul-searching loses its way amongst the noise.