On Julia Jacklin’s excellently unusual new album Pre Pleasure there’s a music known as “Too In Like to Die.” It’s very a lot literal. The besotted narrator ticks off a few deadly calamities—a aircraft crash, a stroll onto the freeway—then swears they may by no means kill her, as a result of, you already know, she’s in love.
In interviews, Jacklin has mentioned she didn’t intend the monitor to be so morbid, that this tragedy tune was, the truth is, the results of an try to put in writing a contented, cheerful love music. “I felt that was the one means I may write about love in a constructive means,” Jacklin advised Stereogum, laughing. Which is a reasonably good sampling of what makes Jacklin—singer-songwriter, 31, Australian—so particular and particular. In understated methods, she whirls collectively intoxicating, overwhelming moods.
Earlier than Pre Pleasure, her third album, Jacklin had at all times written her songs on guitar. However Pre Pleasure might not have existed if she hadn’t put down the axe and picked up a keyboard. After touring behind 2019’s Crushing for 2 pandemic-interrupted years, Jacklin says, “I used to be so sick of guitar. I’m not a brilliant technical guitarist. You get caught in the identical chord patterns and strumming rhythms. It felt like the one means that I may write new songs was by altering it up.”
She bought her first keyboard from the musician Steve Moore, who’s performed with drone-metal legends Sunn O))) and composed horror film scores. “I by no means owned one thing like that,” Jacklin says. “Perhaps as a result of once I was younger and a bit insecure I believed, ‘Oh, a guitar is a severe instrument, and a Casio keyboard with a extremely shitty drum machine sound just isn’t what knowledgeable musician ought to be writing on.’ However that reward from somebody who’s been a musician ceaselessly—who’s actually performed it on stage with Sufjan Stevens—it was like, ‘OK, effectively, if it’s adequate for you, clearly it’s adequate for me.”
The opening monitor and lead single from Pre Pleasure, “Lydia Wears a Cross,” kicks off with a kind of “shitty” drum machine sounds. As Jacklin chants the catchy title phrase—“Lydia wears a cross / says she’s by no means gonna take it off”—robotic thuds march on. Tinny and beguiling, it wrong-foots any longtime Jacklin listeners anticipating pleasing, unhappy, acquainted guitars.
Jacklin, who ultimately moved from a Casio to a Roland, says that the fantastic thing about keyboards is that it’s simple to get sounds out of them. “The guitar, it’s tremendous painful initially, it doesn’t really feel intuitive. The keyboard—a cat can play a keyboard!” she provides. “I positively didn’t dive into that instrument in a technical means. It was extra simply, you set down two keys and also you’re like ‘That’s cool. That sounds good.’”
Altering her songwriting course of is a part of Jacklin’s total love of private experimentation, which has seen her take faucet dancing and screenwriting courses. It’s additionally part of a transfer towards extra private inventive freedom. “If you’re a lady singer-songwriter who sings about emotions, folks make plenty of assumptions,” she says. “I used to be simply saying to somebody, typically I ponder whether the one purpose I’m a folks singer-songwriter is as a result of I’m 31 and I got here up within the time of Laura Marling and Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons. These are the issues that find yourself fully describing who you’re. How did I find yourself right here?”
In the course of the making of Pre Pleasure, Jacklin listened to plenty of Leonard Cohen’s stuff from the Eighties, “when he was a bit foolish.” “I used to be considering, how cool is it that somebody may write ‘Suzanne’ after which additionally write ‘Jazz Police’?” she says. “To me that document completely appears like an artist that’s simply attempting one thing on.” Trying forward, Jacklin wish to do a bit extra of that herself. The keyboard was a step in that route. She’s not fully positive, or a minimum of not at the moment saying, what the subsequent steps will probably be. “Three albums in, I really feel like I’ve proved myself to myself,” she says, “I genuinely really feel like I’m gonna method issues a bit otherwise transferring ahead. As a result of it’s like, on the finish of the day”—she smiles—“who cares.”