This third record from Methyl Ethel is apparently the first that was intended “to be heard”, by which frontman and principal songwriter Jake Webb presumably means that it was intended for a wider audience than just former bandmates and friends within Perth’s music scene (their first two albums chronicled his uneasy relationship with both in some detail). ‘Triage’ is the trio’s most accessible work yet and feels like their most carefully-crafted, which in itself threatens to prove its downfall. For a band so often described with adjectives like ‘surrealist’ and ‘flamboyant’, Methyl Ethel suddenly sound almost maniacally committed to having everything just so.
Webb has taken his cues from all the right places, though. Previous parallels were routinely drawn with T. Rex, but those will fade into the background when the conversation around ‘Triage’ begins, in favour of nods to The Cure and David Bowie, particularly ‘Scary Monsters and Super Creeps’ in the case of the latter. The sumptuously melodic ‘Real Tight’ is the standout and the track that the album hinges on, but there’s value in the spacier moments too (see ‘Post-Blue’ and ‘All the Elements’). The first truly outward-facing Methyl Ethel album should go over well with plenty – a little less restraint next time out, though, might expand their reach even further.