Julia Jacklin. Original Photo by Nick Mckk. Logo by Ephraim Nyahwa.
JULIA JACKLIN - PRE PLEASURE
POLYVINYL RECORDS 2022
After the seminal release of 2019’s Crushing, Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin returns with her latest album, Pre Pleasure. A patient and mature work, Pre Pleasure presents itself as Jacklin’s most introspective record to date, bringing heartfelt candour and emotional vulnerability to the fore.
Half recorded in Montreal, Canada, and co-produced with Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, The National), Pre Pleasure was composed following the ‘Crushing’ tour, which left Jacklin struggling with severe burnout. As a result of this, Jacklin’s relationship with her guitar became fraught, as she, “associated playing guitar with feeling really tired.” Upon listening to Pre Pleasure, one can sense a discernible shift between the live drums and guitar-led compositions of Jacklin’s previous endeavours, to that of the use of keys and a drum machine on her most recent offering.
On the opening track ‘Julia Wears a Cross’, Jacklin ruminates on the catholic education she sustained as a young girl. Lyrics such as, ‘Eyes to the board/Thoughts to the Lord’, provide pious imagery of catholic school days spent singing and praying in classrooms. Discussing part of the inspiration for the track, Jacklin said she was , ‘Thinking about how nice it would be to be religious in a way. To believe in a higher power and to have some sort of community around that.’ Lyrics such as, ‘I'd be a believer/If it was all just song and dance/I'd be a believer/If I thought we had a chance’, demonstrate this subtle yearning.
With a slight nod to Rumours era Fleetwood Mac, ‘Love Try Not To Let Go’ is a stunningly simplistic track, showcasing Jacklin’s ability to forge compelling narratives using the sparsest of tools. Accompanied by keys and a simple drum loop, Jacklin sings with quiet gravity and self assurance, patiently building towards an explosive break in the chorus, in which she urges herself to, ‘Try not to let go’.
Tracks such as, ‘I am Neon’ and ‘Be Careful With Yourself’, both define themselves in terms of their richer, guitar driven sound. In ‘I am Neon’, a volatile Jacklin raises the question, ‘Am I gonna lose myself again? I quite like the person that I am.’
‘Be Careful With Yourself’ is an urge towards the sentiment of the title itself, opening with the lines, ‘Please stop smoking/want your life to last a long time/If you don’t stop smoking/I’ll have to start, shorten mine.’ Written in a wryly straightforward manner, ‘Take Care of Yourself’ proves to be less of a drastic plea of self care, and more of a forward thinking pledge of commitment.
In ‘Less Of a Stranger’, Jacklin returns to familiar territory with mellow acoustic guitar and intimate, hushed vocals. The humility of the intricate vocal harmonies and melodies provide a lo-fi appeal to the track, encouraging the listener to share the poignancy of the moment with her.
Even amidst the playful employment of electronic drums, Jacklin’s lyrical and melodious sensitivity spins the whole of Pre Pleasure into a deeply compelling narrative of self reflection, examination and self assurance. Slow moving at times, Pre Pleasure is albeit a generous record with Julia Jacklin’s vocals and songwriting abilities presented in a glimmering light.
Pre Pleasure by Julia Jacklin is out now. You can find it via the Flying Nun Record Shop here.