Live Review: Methyl Ethyl – London

Methyl Ethyl

The Shacklewell Arms, 15/08/2017

Words: Nick Jacques

I strolled into the Shacklewell Arms with about 15 minutes to go before Methyl Ethyl were to go on stage. I had never set foot in this part of town before. I was intrigued to know what I might find lurking amongst these 4 murky music-soaked walls. I was surrounded by guys who looked like Paul Simon of yesterday year and trendy looking beach bums and other hipster types. It all the more made for an interesting setting for Methyl Ethyl’s hotly-anticipated only London show before they set off for a lengthy international tour.

With the small dance hall room packed to the rafters and perspiration smothering the walls, the band emerged to a warm and vibrant applause and unravelled their ethereal and dizzying sounds to our ears. They opened with a surprising array of menacing guitar undertones and vocals which sounded a bit more strained than on record, which was all the more better for it too. Hooky basslines and infectious choruses seem to the order of the day for Methyl Ethyl but their songs seem to be like onions, with all these subtle layers thrown in for good measure and it works really well.

Their dreamy and floaty notes combined in a lazy and effortless way with vocals reminiscent of a young Robert Smith. With a comparison such as this including nods to Unknown Mortal Orchestra and a hint of Tame Impala, I thought I was witnessing something both original and apt for our times. A big chunk of the tunes came from their latest impressive long-player Everything is lost.

The gig’s highlights included the blissful and eerie Schlager, which hit the sweet-spot nicely. Drink Wine with its uplifting and pirouetting synths, earned them much applause – definitely a track for the summer to get the beach party going!

Other worthy mentions were Weeds through the Rind with its seamless chemistry of a tight bass line riff and a stern drum kick with a sprinkle of glacial synths. The confident guitar strut of No.28 also got heads nodding and bodies shaking with enthusiasm. There was the odd moment where my mind drifted but it was only due to being caught up in Methyl Ethyl’s hazy sun-drenched atmospherics.

They ended the night with their hit Ubu, which, has been doing the rounds on 6 music lately (as well as our very own Popped Music show on IWFM!)  and also been streamed more than 3 million times. This earnt the biggest crowd participation of the night with everyone joining in and hooting enthusiastically at the end.

As everyone filed out sensibly through the narrow doors, I remembered the first time the singer spoke to the crowd in which he cracked a playful take on words by saying:

“Shacklewell by name, shacklewell by nature” Although this might sound fairly tenuous to you readers, the crowd found it rather funny and thus charmed their way into the books. They’ve certainly written a decent chapter in my book, let us see if they can continue to conjure up more dreamy and seductive beats.

Listen to UBU here:



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