by Phil Scarisbrick
Endless, mindless scrolling has increasingly become a feature of the daily lives of many over the last few years. Digital interfaces have opened us up to the wider world in ways we could never have imagined, but it has ensnared our attention to a point where we communicate less and less in the flesh. This scrolling can also take you to some odd places. In mere seconds, you can read how much someone you went to high school with hates her ex, see a colleague’s generic takeaway food with some cliched slogan attached, discover what is popular on TikTok, and then see the latest sensationalist doomsday news before the world inevitably goes on. What if all this wasn’t just confined to the five or six inches of your smartphone screen though? What if the characters you see and their oddities confronted you in real life? This is the premise that informed the new single by Australian multi-instrumentalist, Methyl Ethel.
Neon Cheap is drenched in toe-tapping funk as Jake Webb envisages what it would be like to be ‘traipsing some Vegas-like strip’ witnessing the ‘events and people you’d normally read about are there as you walk around, inoculated, casually observing.’ A synth hook that is reminiscent of a snake charmer’s call cries over the intro before Webb’s vocal jumps in. ‘Who’s that person who cannot be put into a category? Everyone got everyone,’ he sings in the chorus evoking David Byrne with his nuanced wail. It isn’t just the vocal that has a Talking Heads’ feel either. The whole dynamic feels like the track may be a distant relation of the Speaking In Tongues single, Girlfriend is Better. There is a sense of jeopardy to the delivery, which, given the premise on which it was created, is a very real feeling one might have to contend with if faced with it in reality.
Having recently signed to Future Classic, it is exciting to see Methyl Ethel back, and Neon Cheap is certainly a statement to return with.
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