Posts Tagged ‘blues-rock bump’

Expectations are what an artist usually tries to deliver, and what music fans always want satisfied. But there are some brave artists that thrive on diverting expectations, subverting their audience’s preconceptions and moving their art ever forward. Scott Walker consistently baffles and bamboozles and Radiohead got really interesting when they kept the guitars in the cupboard and defiantly spat Kid A at us in 2000.

WA singer Abbe May is one such brave little indian. 2011’s AMP-nominated debut Design Desire – with it’s sludgily rocking single ‘Mammalian Locomotion’ – put May right in our faces as a Gibson-wielding cap-R Rock maven sucking us all towards the dark side. Nic Harcourt of MTV US was moved to write “Abbe May plays a scorching guitar – she is the fucking shit”; Popmatters shouted “Abbe May is set to destroy the entire rock world”. Fame, festivals, fantastic!


Time came for the follow up. More of the same? No, like Radiohead she left the guitars (mostly) in their cases and spent a year and a half (with producer Sam Ford) playing with drum machines and a Mellotron. They locked themselves in a small studio in Perth (the world’s most isolated capital city) and magicked up Kiss My Apocalypse.

Gone is the blues-rock bump and grind, gone is the organic in-your-face production. Instead we have an album that takes May’s blues base out to some pretty synthy star systems, transmuting along the way into a darker kind of Pop. Whereas Design Desire’s sexuality was brazenly out in the open, Kiss My Apocalypse happens behind closed doors – claustrophobic, machine-cool and almost alien. What she hasn’t lost – thankfully – is the sense of danger, menace and theatre in her music.abbemay_kmaalbumart

“Pop is sexy when done well and it’s incredibly difficult to do it well if you try too hard,” says May. “We wanted to get away from music that took itself too seriously. I’m so tired of this whole shoe gaze – it-cost-a-lot-of-money-to get-a-haircut-that-looks-like-i-haven’t-brushed-my-hair-in-months type shit. “Artists” in denial that they are basically just entertainers. Being an entertainer is more meaningful if you ask me. It’s not such a selfish pursuit.”

Back in late 2012, first single ‘Karmageddon’ signalled the new direction  – a cool-as-fuck doomy piece of Goldfrappian pop. Kiss My Apocalypse is loaded with some equally heavy-lidded gems – ‘Tantric Romantic’ strides across the dancefloor, pilled to the gills. Title track ‘Kiss My Apocalypse’ is Dusty Springfield floating on Quaalude clouds of reverb. ‘Perth Girls’ rocks it up a little more, but still seems to be moving through a druggy fug.

In such a heavily stylised, synthetic sound world as is Kiss My Apocalypse, May’s voice is the unifying factor. Although heavily treated throughout – sometimes to the point of distortion – that very human and very soulful approach that won us all over on Design Desire cannot be glossed over by the machines. Kiss My Apocalypse is ultimately a very human and very moving album, albeit wrapped in a shiny new skin.

It is a brave new world definitely worth a listen.


Published May 2013 on