Australian band The Fabric mined a ‘70s soul sound complete with a raging horn section; so, it came as somewhat of a surprise when lead-singer Angie McMahon emerged from a chrysalis in 2017 as a singer-songwriter in the mould of London Grammar with Slow Mover, which subsequently went gold in her native Australia.
Two years on, the Melbourne artist delivers her debut album ‘Salt’, deftly pairing the simplicity of garage rock against the profound intricacies of sadness.
The friction between these two elements creates a tense alignment of sparse guitar, which often acts as an anchor to McMahon’s chaotic and emotionally exhausted mind, which detrimentally overanalyses the past, present and future minutia of her existence in a scattergun fashion.
This is never more so apparent than on Pasta, which commences: “My bedroom is a disaster, my dog has got kidney failure, I’ve been sitting at the bar too much, kissing people in my head…”
However, the rapid-fire imagery of McMahon’s lyrics are so effective that they establish a fast-friends, barfly intimacy – ‘I feel like I’ve known you forever, man’ – and it is here that the real pay-off in ‘Salt‘ is to be found.
The unrequited search for love, happiness, personal and professional fulfilment resonate in us all, but they are best expressed while the blood and bruises still remain and in this regards McMahon doesn’t hold back. On Keeping Time she confronts “all the cracks in me” and “all the things I burnt, I learnt their cost.”
On Soon, McMahon is once bitten twice shy as she asks a potential suitor to wait until the smoke clears from her previous relationship. “I’ve been hiding my tears from my mother and she, she and my father still laugh together, see I’d like to have real love someday. And I’d like to get past this heartbreak soon.”
This hesitance to settle is also reflected on her breakout single Slow Mover. “There’s someone else but I twist all of his words and he twists mine, so I’ll have to let him go. We sometimes fit, but we always lie. And he thinks we could make it work, but only when he’s drunk. You think you could help me swim, but I’ve already sunk.”
It is clear throughout that McMahon feels internal and external pressure to settle down, but her upbringing has thought her to search out something much more significant than physical attraction and her incapability to find it makes her feel like a failure.
‘Salt’ finds McMahon pouring salt on her own wounds in the hope that the pain will provide the answers. This vicious circle provides plenty of insight into Angie McMahon’s mind. If you like your tracks bloody, you’ve come to the right place.