by Phil Scarisbrick
Jade McNally’s debut album, Basic Love, delivers an ever-warping maze of sun-soaked pop, krautrock and new wave, and is a delight that never quite feels comfortable in its own skin.
That is not to say that it is difficult to listen to – it certainly isn’t. The themes tackled by the Melbourne native all centre around conflict to varying degrees, and this lack of certainty permeates into the music. The News starts with a big inhale from McNally, before the opening verse and chorus sits above a trudging, palm-muted guitar, with sprinklings of cymbals before giving way to an isolated, melodic bass line. By the time everything comes together, the misgivings of the lyrics have been accentuated by a backing that feels like it has similar doubts.
This sense of drama resonates throughout the record. The single – Remote Control – combines paper thin synths with an infectiously-stuttering drum beat and staccato guitar picking for one of the record’s highlights. The Weekend juxtaposes optimism – ‘Coast to coast, what I’d like most is to live over there’ – with a sense of the grounded reality of capitalism, lamenting the ‘9 to 5 mentality’. The G-funk evoking rhythm section on Get Out Of Your Head backs a sumptuous vocal, delivering some of the album’s best melodies.
The whole record feels so effortlessly constructed, yet, when you really pay attention, you can feel the intricate care that has gone into it. Recording live and in analogue gives it a ‘classic’ feel, but the subjects covered are firmly planted in the present. Although it may fly under the radar a bit, those who give it chance will surely be experiencing one of the year’s strongest debuts.
Secret Meeting score: 80