Friday, June 3, 2016

Methyl Ethel - Oh Inhuman Spectacle

On Oh Inhuman Spectacle, Jake Webb of Methyl Ethel weaves dream pop that doesn't fit the hazy, sunny pop that such term typically calls to mind.  Rather, Webb's creations the bedtime to dawn fractured dreams of the over-tired, semi-awake, mentally over-active or fevered.  Accordingly, the album cycles through stages of restfulness, twitchy hyperactivity, calm, and tension.  The textures are varied, fully detailed and, at times, lush.  And such depth may need some time to fully appreciate.  When I first listened to this album I thought it was very interesting, with several great songs.  After the second listen I upped my grade to "very good" overall.  After the third time, I rank this album as one of my top 15 of the year so far, and I'm recommending it to all my friends.  Or at least to all my friends that don't think that music stopped evolving with U2, because such people are hopeless.

Playing this set of songs from start to finish is like looking through a richly illustrated children's book, with colorful psychedelic coloring, pop ups, hidden sound buttons and playful stories.  With some tracks I found myself musing "this could have been on the White Album", and at other times a similar thought about Pet Sounds.  Telling you which songs are the best isn't a useful endeavor, as with this album, more than others, it will depend on your taste and your mood at the time you listen.  After all, this is an album of moods.  But "Twilight Driving" has earned broad recognition at a top track from this album, and I agree with the consensus thinking: It is magnificent.

Oh Inhuman Spectacle was written and performed by Webb, with some assistance from studio engineer Chris Wright.  For live performances Wright plays drums and Thom Stewart plays bass.  The album was released in Australia in 2014, but is now getting a deserved world-wide rollout via 4AD.


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