Album Review: Methyl Ethel – Are You Haunted? | gigwise

The loss of a friend is not something we can prepare for, and often we are unable to control our grief, let alone create art from it. Jake Webb’s fourth album as Methyl Ethel does just that. Casting ruminations of mortality, time-wasting, and frank fear into a mixtape that simmers steadily.

Webb comes to terms with the loss of his former musical collaborator Brian Mitra, returning to the studio founded by Mitra, and the place where Webb recorded his first EP Guts. With the studio acting as a touchstone that sandwiched the start and current state of Webb’s career, he has an opportunity to reflect and focus on his grief-stricken fourth album Are You Haunted?.

Moving away from the digest-pop and soul-searching synth-pop of Triage, Webb and his band look outward for inspiration. Their gaze rests on philosophy, cultural changes and millennial discomfort. We feel Webb sinking below the surface of the propulsive intensity of an outside force, moving away from his pop DNA.

Webb’s emotions are laid bare throughout the record, with “Matters” seeing abject fear turn into budding excitement, and the opener “Ghosting” seeming like a eulogy to the lost. Are you haunted? is an obvious catharsis for Webb, and its skeletal, ominous feel gives us a muddy window into his headspace and the grieving process. “One and Beat” and “In a Minute, Sublime” are delicate indulgences in Webb’s experimental songwriting.

“Proof” cites a post-truth era as source material, and “Kids On Holiday” taps into climate anxiety with its MGMT bounce and sparse piano melodies. The record contains Radiohead’s orchestral quirks of the A Moon Shaped Pool era, while retaining a pop dynamism that swaddles each track in an inviting veneer. A polished yet offbeat record that deftly navigates the gravity of grief and glistens with unconventional production flourishes.

Are you haunted? is out now.

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