An intimate soundscape, pivoting between unanticipated euphoria and robotic inquisition...

jade imagine’s ‘Basic Love’ is as clever as it is inquisitive - very rarely does a debut LP tackle life's greater questions this effectively. Combining elements of art-rock and new wave, it is both powerful and surprisingly euphoric.

The collective – fronted by Jade McInally – centres on an observant, collaborative and dynamic musical style, and are signed to Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Records in Melbourne. Its release comes at a fruitful time for the city’s musical environment: from indie rock to electronica, jazz to hip-hop, the creative cityscape is thriving.

‘Gonna Do Nothing’ sets the album’s immediate tone, a kraut-pop inspired anthem that transports listeners to LA’s Sunset Boulevard on a cathartic Sunday morning. Minimal yet reverberating guitar chords crash in a numb, robotic fashion, think Sonic Youth meets Bauhaus. Such numbness hints toward the musical realm of this record, a constant tussle between romance and sci-fi-like inquisitiveness.

‘The News’ follows, a playful yet sarcastic hit at (unsurprisingly) the news. Disorientating yet melodic fuzzy guitar riffs do well to emphasise the feeling of negative blur as the mechanics of the world thrust forward. Cleverly, it acts as an extended metaphor for life and social acceptance.

Basic Love’ is best viewed as one large concept project rather than a collection of singles, an existential exploration of the simple vs. the abstract. It has a distinct aura of isolation and urban saturation - a direct result of the recording process on the Sunshine Coast and in Melbourne. McInally often questions the regularities of life, whether it be in a suburban beach town or a city where one struggles to adapt to a regimented, capitalised routine.

Perhaps most robotic is ‘Remote Control,’ a pulsating stab at loss of hope and youthfulness. It mirrors the collapse of ambition as unhealthy routines creep in. Musically, it presents an eerie atmosphere, imitating the antithetical deep nothingness of a busy urban environment. ‘The Weekend’ evolves this theme further. McInally’s transformative vocals are lamenting, while a regimented melody presents the ‘9 to 5’ as essentially unfulfilling. Is the weekend really all we have to live for?

Take away the dreamy surf-pop effects of ‘Cut Me Off’ and what’s left is an incongruous bass-line similar to those employed by chaotic South London punk bands. This track’s dark allegory contrasts best with the euphoric pleasure of the album’s closing songs: ‘Get Out Of Your Head’ hints at this, but its best exemplar is the romantic yet despondent, lo-fi ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’. With this comes a strange sense of euphoria, the kind that appears when times are most mundane; if Danny Boyle’s ‘Trainspotting’ had come 20 years later, this could have been its soundtrack.

‘Basic Love’ is an intimate soundscape, pivoting between unanticipated euphoria and robotic inquisition. 

8/10

Words: Charlie Barnes

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