Methyl Ethel’s new EP, ‘Hurts to Laugh’, is a mind-bending, musical tapestry of sound, which represents a world falling further into inescapable delirium.

Fourteen months ago, Methyl Ethel released one of 2019’s great albums in Triage. It showcased the creativity of Jake Webb – the mastermind and founder of the Perth-based band. The record was sprawling yet dynamic, and it was flamboyant at times while always being cathartic. Yet, it felt incomplete even at eleven songs, and Webb must have felt the same as he’s released a companion EP.

Hurts to Laugh, like its predecessor, is a musical tapestry, weaving together psychedelic-pop and art-rock melodies with electronic beats and krautrock and post-punk rhythms. As forward-thinking the record sounds, it is also very present in its message and themes.

The quietly intense “Majestic AF” opens the record. The industrial-style synths and jittery rhythms create an uneasy urgency, which perfectly complements Webb’s tale of a lost soul. He says with a mixture of angst and disappointment:

“A bottomless sty of worry
An idle goodbye, you didn’t talk
A bottled up Leviathan
So far, so gone.”

The darkly soulful “Honest” is an extension of the opener. Similarly restrained in its approach, the foreboding mood is the canvas for a story of a man trying to reconnect with the truth and reality. The EP takes a turn on “Charm Offensive”. With its throbbing disco beats and brimming desperation, the track closely reflects the cathartic nature of Triage. The brilliant “What Memory Found” is Webb approaching the heights of his immense talents. It builds slowly like an ’80s cinematic overture. Before it reaches the anthemic qualities of the songs of that era, Webb pulls the song back, and a levitating delirium forms. It’s a stunning and nearly breathtaking moment.

“The Quicker”, though, is Webb at the peak of his powers. It commences slowly, but then an urgency takes over. Webb’s shallow vocals swirl within this desperate yet desolate atmosphere. He is drowning in a pool of lies and falsehoods. In the distance, he hollers, “Everything is changing. Everything is gone.” The world is broken, and It may be too late to fix the wound because we have accepted fiction to be fact and fact to be fiction. Given the times we currently reside in, this song, this record arrives at the perfect time. It arrives to warn us that if we don’t act now, we can never turn the clocks back.

Hurts to Laugh is out now on Dot Dash Recordings / Remote Control Records, and it’s available for purchase on Bandcamp.

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