Marmalade by Phoebe Go album review by Gareth O'Malley for Northern Transmissions



Phoebe Go

Receiving acclaim as part of a band you were in during your teens is a strange thing. You can cling on to that old idea of yourself and try to make it work, or wind it down when you feel like you need to. As part of the relatively successful Snakadaktal, Phoebe Lou got a lot of attention as a young artist, but that didn’t dissuade her from continuing to make music, first as part of Two People (a project with fellow ex-Snakadaktal member Joe Clough that appears to have been a two-albums-and-out kind of thing), and then stepping out on her own as a solo artist called Phoebe Go.

The Melbourne-born artist has taken her time with a debut album—putting out the Player EP in late 2022 as a predecessor to compensate for the wait—and the resulting record may initially seem brief (8 songs and under 30 minutes of music) but Marmalade keeps things short and appropriately sweet. You can think of it as a development of the sound introduced on the preceding EP, as she largely opts for a full-band expression of her peppy, indie rock sound. There’s only so much you can do as a solo artist, and a lack of musical progression here would have offered fans ‘more of the same’; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Lou decided to branch out, instead of risking diminishing returns. She falls back on the stripped-back sound only for ‘Stupid’, one of several songs here to chart the course of a breakup in vivid lyrical detail, opting for feeling anything over feeling good: “I never loved you for fun / I did it because it hurt.”

Lyrical turns are likely to get stuck in your head as much as any musical content; ‘Love You Now’ opens with a line dripping with self-deprecation, kicking off the album on a high note. “I’m a four or a five, and your only score is a perfect nine.” On the same song, the bridge expands into glorious full-band noise for brief moments, and it’s Lou’s ability to make the musical dynamics of her songs turn on a dime that rewards repeated listens. Penultimate track ‘Leave’ is a tip of the hat to contemporaries like Stella Donnelly and Julia Jacklin, leaning into the muscular full-band sound from which the record greatly benefits. The song screeches to a halt briefly, before its last chorus and instrumental outro bring it home.

It’s full of standout moments and acts as a microcosm of the record in general, where the ebb and flow of a song structure matters as much as how it sounds. Closing track ‘Rainbow Hotel’ is a gorgeous middle ground between the sound of the EP and the debut album, a song that builds for nearly three minutes before flipping its final chorus into an impactful, multilayered finale; a delightful unexpected detour that ends the record on a high note. With little room for error, Marmalade manages to stick the landing with songs you’ll find yourself reaching for again, the second its closing track ends. She may have been around in the industry for a while, but Phoebe Lou knows what she wants and how to get it; she’s going to give this solo artist thing a damn good go.

Order Marmalade by Phoebe Go HERE

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