Secret Meeting score: 79
by Philip Moss and Joseph Purcell
Julia Jacklin’s debut record, Don’t Let the Kids Win, was one of the most critically underrated records of 2016, but saw her leading a wave of female singer songwriters. With her intelligent blend of jangling guitars and edgy vocals, Jacklin garnered many fans with her reflective folk pop. Now, together with friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan Brennan, she’s formed Phantastic Ferniture – a side project that started off as a bit of a joke, but has spun into something bigger than perhaps first intended – “I’d gone straight into folk music, so every experience I’d had on stage was playing sad music. I thought, I would love to know what it’s like to make people feel good and dance. It’s like having an alter ego.”
Beginning with the irresistibly catchy Uncomfortable Teenager, Phantastic Ferniture is an album flowing with surf riffs and a renewed zest of purpose. This is typified none more so than by the swaggering, groove filled Bad Timings, as Jacklin’s pugnacious vocal – brimming with punch, attitude and defiance – hollers – ‘We were never meant to be!’
Fuckin’ ’N’ Rollin rumbles on a bass line of filth and fury, building to a strutting crescendo – again giving opportunity for the young Australian’s voice to soar over the Sydney based three piece’s lo-fi eruptions. The churning metronomic drumbeat of Gap Year and the centrepiece of the album,Take it Off, are potentially Jacklin’s finest work to date. While Parks is brimming with feedback heavy punches, before the spellbinding enchanting Jacklin vocal on I Need It is reminiscent of the great Patti Smith.
Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut provides the perfect stage for Jacklin to temporarily bury the whimsical, melancholic folk sound and will surely help her to build on her already growing popularity. It’s a record that’s full of fun, and one which most certainly allows her alter ego to come to the fore. Sometimes, side projects don’t meet up to the sum of their parts, but this one is phantastic.