‘Scream Whole’ sounds good on the radio. It sounds good blasting out at a festival. So does ‘Real Tight’. All Triage’s songs do…
But do they all sound... do they all sound a little familiar?
In a recent interview, Jake Webb shared a little on his creative process. He described it as chiselling away, whittling down to what works and not repeating. Speaking to another media outlet he likened it to how bakers keep journals of ratios to improve recipes, before adding he’s been focusing more on his work and less on the “grander, existential questions of what and why and who and how.” A fair point…
But does this fundamentally narrow the possibility of what Methyl Ethel as a band can do?
Maybe amidst the intoxicating rhythms and strange musical architecture, Jake is a little at war with himself. Since when should ideas and innovation be swept to the side for proficiency’s sake? Draw with a free hand, kick it loose…
Where is Triage approaching the wild abandon of something like ‘Twilight Driving’ and those other songs from when this band was young and crazy?
The creative frenzy of ‘Post-Blue’, ‘Trip the Mains’ and ‘All the Elements’ comes close, but then again they may not equal it. Popular music is full of well-crafted and solidly-constructed albums but then there are those moments which make the hairs on the back of necks stand on end. What separates good from great sometimes requires transcending instinct and common sense. Maybe this band’s focus is elsewhere, the festival mindset. These songs can put people into motion. They are making body music. A certain type of crowd digs this certain type of music…
Is Jake Webb content to simply keep the crowds moving while placating the higher ups?
A few repeat listens will reveal that Triage’s perfection is a worthy end within itself. Methyl Ethel has fully realised everything they have been doing right. Transitioning from art damaged outsiders to accomplished touring outfit, Ethel arrives here. Triage’s focus on craft isn’t a bad thing. It is a consolidation, the perfection of everything great that has come so far and a launching pad for what comes next. It’s a succession of well-constructed songs that if together say anything it’s simply that this is the best of what Methyl Ethel can do to-date. No grand statement, just great music. Triage leaves Methyl Ethel poised and ready for what comes next. Given the group’s relentless output, it likely won’t be too long before we find out.
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
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