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‘Pre Pleasure’ compels with introspective confession

Photo courtesy Polyvinyl Record Co

By Hadley Medlock     8/30/22 11:36pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: “Love, Try Not To Let Go”

Australian indie rock singer Julia Jacklin has returned just three years after her sophomore album with her newest release, “Pre Pleasure.” A bittersweet reflection on self-awareness, sexuality, complicated love and her own mother-daughter relationship, “Pre Pleasure” is another successful product of Jacklin’s introspective and tastefully confessional songwriting. 

Jacklin opens the album with “Lydia Wears a Cross,” a song looking back on her Catholic school years and reluctance to believe in God. The lead single of “Pre Pleasure” sets up Jacklin’s album nicely with her lyrical storytelling and simple but effective production. It leads into the upbeat second track “Love, Try Not to Let Go,” a punchy song that captures Jacklin’s simple desire to find and feel love. The bridge’s teasing buildup of harsh guitar and rhythmic drums  that falls back into the delicate piano of the chorus instead of a big climax was well done, making this one of the more interesting songs to listen to and one of the best from the album. 

“Ignore Tenderness” focuses on Jacklin’s complicated relationship with her own body and sexuality. “Staring at my own reflection / Ever since I was 13, I’ve been pulled in every direction,” Jacklin explains, criticizing the way women are educated about sex and sexuality from a young age. The chimes right before the chorus were also a pleasing touch. 

A standout of the album, “I Was Neon” opens with guitars reminiscent of songs from her 2019 album “Crushing,” and juxtaposes the upbeat rhythm with lyrics about the anxiety of losing yourself. Though the lyrics are simple, they’re still relatable and cutting — “Am I gonna lose myself again?” she continues to ask herself, hoping that she doesn’t. 

Although a bit jarring after the more easygoing “I Was Neon,” “Too In Love To Die” is a beautifully flooring piece. An aching song about intense love with dreamy, serene production, this was easily my favorite of the slower ballads on “Pre Pleasure” and one of my top songs overall. 

A brutal ballad about her strained relationship with her mother, “Less of a Stranger” pulls on heartstrings over a simple guitar backing. While a song about her own experience, Jacklin seems to have perfected the art of being just confessional enough that others can see themselves in her music too. 

“Be Careful With Yourself” was another great upbeat song from the album. Back to the more rock side of her indie-rock style, Jacklin asks a lover to be careful because she doesn’t want to imagine life without them. “I’m making plans for my future and I plan on you being in it,” she states simply. This song really shows how Jacklin’s understatements make some of her most powerful lyrics, and I was a big fan of the drum kit and guitar backing for this song. 

Although a little slow and meandering in the second half, “Pre Pleasure” still packs a powerful punch. Her entrancing and deeply personal lyricism shines through in every song, her silky smooth vocals begging you to keep listening. Each track of Jacklin’s is distinctly its own, and this album is very obviously her own form of catharsis, even within the most simple lyrics. I think I loved this album more every time I listened to it. Jacklin continues to prove herself as one of the more genius singer-songwriters of our generation.

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