Meg Washington can do heaps of impressive shit.
You’ve probably seen or heard some of it over the years, what with the operas and TV soundtracks and TED Talks and voicing cartoon characters and that really dark eye shadow she wore while bringing showtunes back at the ARIAs in 2010.
Maybe you forgot during all the colour and noise that while Meg Washington can do heaps of impressive shit, the most impressive thing she does is write great songs. Meg doesn’t blame you for that; for a while there, she almost forgot that herself. For the album Batflowers, it was an exercise in believing one’s own hype, getting to the raw guts of why anyone makes music at all. This search ultimately armed Meg with a kind of brazen bolshiness, handing her a baton long presumed lost so she can finally run the whole damn show.
We’re talking art direction, photography, hand-assembled animation, A&R. The entire kit and kaboodle of the album-making process. Confidence that only comes from taking back control; hand-picking producers for their vibe, like John Congleton (Angel Olsen, St Vincent, Moses Sumney), Japanese Wallpaper (Mallrat, Allday), and Dave Hammer (Jess Kent, Mia Rodrigues, Genesis Owusu). Little rhyme or reason, unless of course you’re the one holding the score.
Take lead single Dark Parts, for example. A bonkers, kind-of pop song that’s in ⅞ time. Handclaps and snaking left-hand piano and some very Presets-ish syncopated drum bits and sudden chord changes before the chorus because why not, right? Polished by Sam Dixon (Sia, Adele, Meg) and Konstantin Kersting (Mallrat, Tones and I, The Jungle Giants). Raucously received, even though eminently strange.
Follow that up with a triple chaser of key bangers you’re yet to hear but soon to love:
Uno. Batflowers, pairing palm-muted guitar with three-part harmonies that swim across verses before opening up into a pulsing ‘80s rhythm.
Dos. Lazarus Drug, the slow-release, synth-soaked ballad that reunites Meg with co-conspirator Japanese Wallpaper and features one of her most emotionally arresting melodies in years.
Tres. The Give, indulging a fondness for stadium torch anthems with booming percussion, ten thousand swirling mini-Megs, keyboards that swell like oceans and at least four references to Joseph Conrad’s seminal novel.
Plenty more songs like that across Batflowers. It’s the sound of pop music tearing at its own fabric, writhing in the darkness as Meg, ever the maestro, conducts this chaos from the centre. A suite of tunes Meg turned upside down to shake out all the junk. ‘I’m here to have fun,’ she says. ‘Why not just record music you like with people you like?’