Perth, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jake Webb is the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded and commercially successful Aussie synth pop/psych pop act Methyl Ethel. Webb’s Methyl Ethel has amassed over 25 million Spotify streams globally — and after landing at #4 on Triple J’s 2017 Hottest 100, “Ubu,” was named an ARIA Accredited Gold single early last year. Also, his tour dates across Australia and the UK have regularly sold out since 2016.
Although Webb has achieved commercial and critical success within a relatively short period of time, Methyl Ethel began as a sort of personal challenge. “I wanted to see if I could write, record and release some music before the band I was in at the time finished doing the same,” Webb says in press notes. “I did and subsequently withdrew from some close friends. Relationships were severed. I severed some even closer ones. This was all played out in such a public away, as it invariably does, so I withdrew more. My first album Oh Inhuman Spectacle became the ‘why me?/fuck you/sorry’ album that I wrote as a confused coping mechanism. It helped and I enjoyed it. I continued the introspective journaling with the follow-up, Everything is Forgotten. For me, that album said ‘who cares? all your emotions are irrational and meaningless anyway.'”
Webb’s most recent full-length album, last year’s Triage may be his most introspective and reflective effort to date with the material thematically, focusing on time and its passing, of getting older and occasionally becoming more mature, of the lies we have to tell ourselves and have to keep to keep on getting by.
Interestingly, Triage‘s follow-up effort, the forthcoming Hurts To Laugh EP, which is slated for an April 10, 2020 release through Dot Dash/Remote Control was recorded at the same time as Triage. Thematically, the five song EP touches upon the psychological difference between feeling and emotion. One is a conscious response to a set of circumstances, the other is the unconscious conditions of our very being that only occasionally surfaces through feelings — with the material probing ambiguities and paradoxes, implied by the effort’s title: you can laugh so hard that it hurts (joy) or you can laugh despite the pain (despair).
Hurts To Laugh‘s first single, the stumbling and stuttering “Majestic AF” is centered around bubbling oscillator, analogue polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line, march-like drumming and a shimmering, slightly atonal synth melody and an anthemic hook paired with Webb’s plaintive falsetto floating over the mix. But at its core, the song manages to possess a dance floor-like energy while being earnest and uneasy.
Methyl Ethel will be embarking on aStateside tour to support his latest effort, opening for Peter, Bjorn & John during the Spring. The tour includes an April 10, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Mid-April sees Webb returning to Australia for a solo tour at intimate venues across the country’s largest cities. Check out the tour dates below.