Release Date 02/18/2022
(Future Classic) SubModern
Methyl Ethel—the musical project of Western Australian alt-pop eccentrist Jake Webb—is bringing all the goods today with a packed list of announcements on the agenda. First up is the news that their highly anticipated fourth album, Are You Haunted?, will be released on February 18 via their new label home, Future Classic. The nine-track album will contain previous singles ‘Neon Cheap’ and ‘Matters’, as well as the new single, ‘Proof’ featuring Stella Donnelly, out now.
‘Proof’ is the first Methyl Ethel song to feature an additional singer: in this case, fellow Western Australian art-pop stalwart and one-time Methyl Ethel guitarist, Stella Donnelly. It’s “a song about truth and movies,” offers Webb, a meditation on what constitutes reality in the post-Trump, post-climate-crisis, post-COVID era, in which science and fiercely-guarded fantasy go head to head in the realm of public discourse. But where other Methyl Ethel songs might lean into the blurriness of life and belief, ‘Proof’ struts along as a glittery, funk-infused polemic against nonsense. Webb and Donnelly, tongues-in-cheek, daring the listener to “take a chance on proof (if you want to).”
The collaboration feels natural, almost inevitable. “Stella is one of the most truth-telling artists I’ve ever heard,” comments Webb. “It made for a perfect match.” Donnelly continues, "Working on ‘Proof’ with Jake felt like being invited to the set of your favourite movie, such an insightful and wonderful experience.”
“Are You Haunted?” asks the title of Methyl Ethel’s fourth album. But it’s more of a rhetorical question. Webb, who adopted the fibreglass-referencing moniker for a bedroom recording project in 2014 and has carried it through the band’s many iterations, already knows the answer. Yes, you’re haunted. We all are, and the real question is: what do we do with our hauntings?
“There are these spirits, memories of our old selves, our younger selves, parents,” he notes, “generations past whose deeds, actions, successes and failures shape us. We all have these ghosts that linger in our present predicaments.” Methyl Ethel has never shied away from themes of memories that overstay their welcome, nightmares or preoccupations that linger in the psyche. But with Webb’s latest longplayer, a more direct and poignant interpretation of haunting takes centre stage: themes of mortality, irretrievable time and heavy presences suffuse the album’s nine tracks. Themes that might make for a sombre listen if it wasn’t for Webb’s knack for exhilarating arrangements, addicting hooks, curious textures and propulsive, syncopated rhythms; elements that add up to a joyous, giddy listen, even if there’s threads of melancholy and anxiety woven through.