Melbourne-via-Blue Mountains singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin continues to mine the depths of her discomfort for timeless pop/rock songs on her latest record Pre Pleasure, which she brings to The Ritz on 6 November.
Since releasing her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win in 2016, Jacklin has been garlanded with praise as one of her generation’s finest confessional lyricists, willing to excavate her life experience to produce songs that are both stark and raw, loose and playful. If her folky debut announced those intentions, and the breakthrough, heavier follow-up Crushing (2019) drew in listeners uncomfortably close, Pre Pleasure is the sound of Jacklin gently loosening her grip.
“Making a record to me has always just been about the experience, a new experience in a new place with a new person at the desk, taking the plunge and just seeing what happens” says Jacklin, on the decision to travel to Canada and work with a new producer (Marcus Paquin of the Weather Station) for the third time in as many albums.
“For the first time I stepped away from the guitar, and wrote a lot of the album on the Roland keyboard in my apartment in Montreal with its inbuilt band tracks”, she says. “I blu-tacked reams of butcher paper to the walls, covered in lyrics and ideas, praying to the music gods that my brain would arrange everything in time.”
It seems the music gods answered. Pre Pleasure is probably Jacklin’s strongest record to date – one that pushes the envelope of her signature sound while serving up some of her best lyrics, which tend to centre around personal politics and self-interrogation.
The album rustles to life with clattering percussion, synths and a solitary dirty lead guitar line, as the stirring opener ‘Lydia Wears A Cross’ lays out Jacklin’s underage confusion of being told religion is profound, despite only feeling it during the spectacle of its pageantry. Other highlights include ‘Love, Try Not To Let Go’, a softly propulsive number about what it’s like to feel yourself exploding with love.
The heavier single ‘I Was Neon’ might be the crux of the album – a paean to self-awareness and considered curiosity in which Jacklin asks if a version of herself has been lost to time: “I quite like the person that I am / Am I gonna lose myself again?” she repeats, voice roiling with equal parts anxiety and excitement. It captures a mind that rarely stops racing – the kind you need in order to put out consistently great records that keep pushing forwards.