Audio Mixers: Chris Wright; Jake Webb.
The debut studio long-player from the Aussie psych-pop collective headed by guitarist/vocalist Jake Webb, Oh Inhuman Spectacle bridges the gap between the dreamy, dance-pop meanderings of Tame Impala and the off-kilter indie rock of MGMT. Decidedly more restrained than either of those acts, Methyl Ethel, whose name is derived from a colorless, sweet-smelling organic compound frequently used as an industrial solvent, paint in the kind of broad strokes that suggest a predilection for lucid dreaming over beat-driven euphoria. The 12-track set's front half is its most rewarding, serving up a trio of solid, late-afternoon, beach-ready daytrippers in "Idée Fixe," "Rogues," and "Twilight Driving," with the latter providing the most earworm-heavy chorus. In keeping with psych-pop convention, the band frequently peppers the album with instrumental space rock interludes, none of which really stand out, yet also never overstay their welcome. The back half of Oh Inhuman Spectacle, despite its more languid pace, isn't without its gems, with the elegiac, Animal Collective-esque "Unbalancing Act" and the soulful, sunset-ready closer "Everything as It Should Be" impressing with their subtle melodic twists and turns, and complete command of mood. In fact, Methyl Ethel's finesse for atmospherics is superb throughout, and the album works best when it's ingested in a single, half-awake sitting. They may lack the immediacy of some of their more envelope-pushing contemporaries, but as sonic world-builders they excel, and certainly possess the acumen to expand those horizons on future outings. ~ James Christopher Monger