The best albums are often those that encompass a variety of different emotions and elicit everything from dancing to existential angst in their listeners. Sometimes they’re albums that reveal their brilliance on the second listen, when the listener can tease out the journey the album takes them on now that they have the benefit of hindsight.
Methyl Ethel brings us one of these albums with Everything is Forgotten, the second studio album led by Jake Webb. Full of catchy songs with a sinister undertone, the album is full of themes of anxiety, running from your problems, and sometimes the silly giddiness of feeling just okay.
Beginning with ‘Drink Wine,’ a punchy number, that could be a different type of party song that inspires dancing with upbeat percussion beats but on the second listen reveals the reason some of us drink – to forget our problems, a reason that often leads to drunken tears later in the night.
Similarly, ‘Ubu’ initially appears to be a fun and vacuous tune about the decisions our loved ones make that we might rail against. An opening line about the subject of the song cutting themselves off from their friends and pulling away is a red flag for a relationship about to end. Another red flag is the utter impatience we can have for the silly decisions our estranged lovers make: in this case, the repeated utterance of “why’d you have to go and cut your hair?”
Anxieties begin to creep in with ‘No. 28,’ which turns dreamy to try and convey some more meaning with unsettling imagery of Webb “tearing at my skin.”
The record truly kicks off with “Femme Maison/One Man House” which is best described as an explosion – starting with mundane musing overlaid against the peppy music that has characterised the album thus far, it builds into a cacophony of noise as the lead singer bemoans exhaustion.
It’s after this Everything is Forgotten becomes a triumph – it’s a deeply unsettling version of pop music is made to be hummed along to while simultaneously inspiring an existential crisis. ‘L’Heure des Socières’ is hypnotic with its dream-pop infused instrumentals combined with repetitive phrasing. In contrast, ‘Act of Contrition’ ends abruptly after immersing the listener through heavy electronica, jolting the listener out of the world out of the album.
In the spirit of being melancholy, ‘Weeds through the Rind’ has an orchestral vibe about love and leaving before moving to ‘Schlager’ a song that aligns with the band’s shoegazer days in tone but with themes of insomnia and continued anxiety that has characterised this release – a fitting endnote to the album.