With the release of 2016’s full-length debut, the folky Don’t Let The Kids Win, acclaimed Melbourne-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Julia Jacklin quickly carved out a reputation for being a direct lyricist, willing to excavate the parameters of intimacy and anger in songs that are simultaneously stark and raw, loose and playful. 2018’s sophomore album Crushing managed to draw the listener in even closer.
Jacklin’s third album PRE PLEASURE is slated for an August 26, 2022 through Polyvinyl Record Co. Conceived upon returning home at the end of an extensive world tour to support Crushing, PRE PLEASURE‘s material was finished in a frantic few months of recording in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin. “The songs on this record took either three years to write or three minutes,” Jacklin says.
Jacklin teamed up with her Canadian touring band, which features The Weather Station’s Ben Whiteley (bass) and Will Kidman (guitar), Folly and the Hunter’s Laurie Torres (drums) and Adam Kinner (drums), as well as string arrangements by Owen Pallett recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.
“Making a record to me has always just been about the experience, a new experience in a new place with a new person at the desk, taking the plunge and just seeing what happens” Jacklin says of traveling to Canada to work with a new producer for the third time in as many albums. “For the first time I stepped away from the guitar, and wrote a lot of the album on the Roland keyboard in my apartment in Montreal with its inbuilt band tracks. I blu-tacked reams of butcher paper to the walls, covered in lyrics and ideas, praying to the music gods that my brain would arrange everything in time.”
The album reportedly sees Jacklin expanding upon her signature sound while thematically conjuring the ripples and fault lines caused by unreliable communication.
Last month, I wrote about album single “I Was Neon,” a relentless motorik groove-driven track featuring buzzing guitars, Jacklin’s plaintive delivery and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook. And while being an anthemic bit of rock-leaning pop — or perhaps pop-leaning rock? — the song is rooted in earnest, lived-in lyricism that simultaneously expresses crippling self-doubt with a deeply, intelligent, almost winking self-awareness of how ridiculous it all is.
“I first wrote ‘I Was Neon’ for a band called rattlesnack, a short-lived much loved 2019 side project that I played drums in,” Jacklin explains. “I rewrote it for my album in Montreal, during a time when I was desperately longing for a version of myself that I feared was gone forever. I was thinking of this song when I made the album cover, this song is the album cover really.”
PRE PLEASURE‘s latest single “Love, Try Not To Let Go” is a shimmering and swooning Fleetwood Mac-like track featuring Jacklin’s achingly tender delivery floating over twinkling keys, reverb-drenched guitars before exploding into thundering guitar chords during the song’s bridge. It’s a fittingly gorgeous yet brooding arrangement for a song that describes the confusing mix of hesitation and desire one feels towards love, heartbreak and moving forward.
Directed by Jacklin and Nick Mckk, the accompanying, playful video for “Love, Try Not To let Go” expands upon the color palette on the cover art and follows Jacklin skipping and dancing down a suburban Melbourne street while singing the song’s lyrics, with a stop to embrace a tree –and in the background, you can see peeks of the city’s skyline in the distance. The video also stars a neighborhood cat — because well, of course it would.