Album Review – Menajerie: Selective Deafness EP

The sprawling urban realm of Meanjin/Brisbane, ever-so-known for its musical dynamism, welcomes yet another prodigious act to its fold: Menajerie. Emerging as a beacon of neo-soul effulgence, the trio of Gracie Mack, Rosa Mack, and Mel Galletly have crafted ‘Selective Deafness’, an audacious debut EP that melds sultry grooves with the silky cadence of their harmonies. This is an EP that does not ask for attention—it demands it, pulling listeners into its intricate soundscape, enveloping them with its warmth and unabashed passion.

At the heart of Menajerie lies a trifold of formidable talent. Gracie, Rosa, and Mel converge seamlessly, with Gracie’s prowess on the keys setting the musical underpinning for Rosa and Mel’s vocal ferocity. This triad forms the pulsating core of Menajerie’s ethos, laying down tracks that are at once intimate and expansive, evoking both the personal and the universal.

The sonic journey of ‘Selective Deafness’ is an odyssey through the annals of R&B, funk, jazz, and neo-soul. There’s a sophistication to their melodies that belies their fledgling status. The EP’s opener, ‘Stuck’, is a slow-burn, encasing listeners in the lustrous haze of neo-soul—its brooding exploration of relational cycles both intoxicating and sobering.

This sonic narrative seamlessly transitions to ‘Holding Pattern’, the lead single and a luminous testament to the band’s versatility. With its intricate rhythmic interplay and simmering emotions, it’s a reflection of life’s myriad intricacies—a mosaic of feeling and sound.

Then, just as the atmosphere becomes too dense, ‘Dat Ass’ comes through, sprinkling funk-infused levity across the tableau. The playful tonality, led by Andrew Fincher’s talkbox, serves as a light-hearted intermission, juxtaposing the EP’s weightier themes with spirited joy.

As the EP continues its progression, ‘Is Everything Alright?’ and ‘Shape You’ waltz in, epitomizing the art of storytelling through sound. While Mel Galletly’s husky serenades question silent partnerships in the former, Rosa Mack’s soulful cadences in the latter pull at heartstrings, unfolding tales of introspection over intricate musical backdrops.

By the time ‘Marmalade’ makes its entrance, it’s evident that Menajerie can shape-shift with finesse. Gracie Mack’s lilting melodies, underpinned by tales of female camaraderie, further amplifies the multi-dimensional nature of the band. This is followed by the energetic culmination in ‘Harley’, a delightful ode to canine companionship, leaving listeners on a spirited note.

What’s striking about ‘Selective Deafness’ is not just its breadth but its depth. The 28-minute sonic sojourn is an elegant dance between cheeky sensuality and raw emotional heft. Menajerie manages to touch upon heartache, joy, empowerment, and introspection, delivering each theme with a finesse that belies their newcomer status.

A month post its release, ‘Selective Deafness’ feels not so much like a debut but an assertion. Menajerie, with their incandescent talent, showcases a maturity in their sound that many bands take years to cultivate. Their command over their craft, their ability to meld genres, and their knack for lyrical profundity positions them at the forefront of the neo-soul movement.

Meanjin/Brisbane has been known to produce gems, and Menajerie is its latest, most luminous diamond. As the echoes of ‘Selective Deafness’ continue to reverberate across the neo-soul landscape, one can’t help but eagerly await the next chapter from this dazzling trio.

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