The last time we got an album from Jade Imagine, it was stocked with snappy, wry indie rock not so far away from Courtney Barnett, whose Milk Records label releases the Melbourne quartet’s output. But three years (and one pandemic) on from 2019’s debut LP ‘Basic Love’, Jade McInally’s namesake band has grown noticeably more subtle and introspective – a mindset that perhaps echoes many months of lockdown.
A gorgeously layered record ideal for headphones, ‘Cold Memory’ swaps out the rock hooks of past Jade Imagine material for starry synths, dazed choruses and guitarist Tim Harvey’s low-key production flourishes. That doesn’t make it any less rewarding, though, especially with an entrancing rhythm section comprised of bassist Madeline Lo-Booth and freelance drummer Marcel Tussie (Stella Donnelly, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever).
Opener ‘I Guess We’ll Just Wait’ anoints the album with George Harrison-esque slide guitar that combines with drowsy vocal harmonies to conjure a slept-in ’70s vibe. McInally is still a sharp lyricist, but you’ll need to listen more closely to absorb that song’s pandemic-appropriate message about biding your time before taking your shot. That weepy slide returns on ‘Home’, but ultimately the album showcases many sides of Jade Imagine.
There’s a clubby synth-pop groove to the ESP-inspired single ‘Instinct That I Wanna Know’, moody vocoder in the wintry title track and more rustic acoustic elements in the closer ‘Lines’.
The record’s throughline might be the motorik pulse driving many of these songs, along with McInally’s slow, airy enunciation. But then there are downtempo gems that are just as enticing, from the slinky and dub-inflected ‘Down to Us’ to the cosmic-tinged ‘Grow Taller’ – the latter featuring a mellow duet with Nile Marr, son of The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. ‘Stay in Ur Zone’ is especially slow, hinging on McInally’s dreamy repetition of the deadpan title phrase.
‘Cold Memory’ represents another strong step forward for McInally, who began her music career in the electronic project Tantrums before playing in the backing bands of songwriters like Jess Cornelius and Jess Ribeiro. Harvey, meanwhile, has recently produced memorable records for Gena Rose Bruce, Lisa Mitchell and Ruby Gill, always serving the songwriter’s individual voice – as he does on this album.
The textural sophistication of ‘Cold Memory’ is worth soaking in as these deeper, more patient songs unfold. They may not have the initial catchy kick of previous Jade Imagine tunes, but they’re likely to linger for longer and reveal new levels of meaning each time.
- Release date: October 21
- Record label: Milk!/Remote Control