It’s been just over a year since Methyl Ethel released their third album Triage, and already they’re backing it up with a five-track EP, Hurts To Laugh. Often, an EP between albums is a space for bands to expel material which doesn’t quite belong – songs which, for whatever reason, didn’t make the cut of an album, but nevertheless the artist felt an attachment to.
The songs of Hurts To Laugh seem to validate this notion. Thrilling and sprawling, like uncut diamonds, they offer a more complex view into the dauntless mind of producer and multi-instrumentalist, Jake Webb.
On Hurts To Laugh, Methyl Ethel dissect the realms of human emotion, ultimately offering a staggering study of pain and the internal drama it brings.
There’s an undeniable sense of drama to Hurts To Laugh. Lead single Majestic AF begins with arpeggiating synths whose varying rhythmic patterns swirl uneasily against jolting drums. A descending melody – ever so slightly discordant – becomes the backbone of the song and it continues to build, eschewing any sense of containment.
There’s a real, primal sense of emotion between these songs, heightened by their lack of regard for structure or hooks. Be clear, you’ll find no Ubu or Twilight Driving between these walls. But for those prepared to give themselves over, you might just find something even more valuable.
“Like I don’t know why you didn’t try/A bottomless sty of worry/An idle goodbye, you didn’t talk/A bottled up Leviathan/So far, so gone,” Webb sings in the chorus, delineating a relationship clearly close to home.
And later: “A while before a heart attack comes/To shatter a family of four/You’ll try to reconnect.” Within the dramatic topography of the track, there’s a sense of opportunity lost, of regret, and the resentment that that can breed.
Honest offers a slower ballad, punctuated by melodramatic organs, emphatic bass, and an encompassing sense of space, whilst Charm Offensive combines the uneasy melodies of Majestic AF and the warbling organs of Honest, all the while refusing to ever give in to the harmonies which rule it.
But the undoubted winner of Hurts To Laugh is the fourth track, What Memory Found. Ascending, washed-out synths and dueling vocal melodies seem to most wholly capture the sentiment which so strongly runs through the rest of the EP. It’s the kind of song which could play on repeat forever, if only because it so potently captures a single sentiment: pain.
On the final track, The Quicker, Webb’s buried vocals evade distinct interpretation. But, like the rest of its companions, the throbbing track doesn’t need words to convey what it has to say. We are in the territory of deep and cavernous emotions, and whatever your experience, Hurts To Laugh will speak to something immense you have once felt.
Hurts To Laugh is out now, grab your copy here.