Iso Beautiful: The Electro-Pop album made for surviving Lockdown 2.0

Jimmy Cigar by Jamie Shelly

11 tracks, 58 min

Album available at DistroKid

“If I had to be stuck inside forever/ I wouldn’t know what to do…”

Out of Melbourne’s great southern lockdown comes the Aussie iso album we need to get us through with sense of humour and sanity intact.

Northern suburbs artist Shelly has compiled a long player for company in our long winter of iso 2.0 and to take us towards summer too, because it manages a deft balancing act.

The winter we are in is lamented in songs like the above-quoted Stuck With You and knockout triphop chanteuse v ukulele single All I See but there is also hope here.

Raucous opener Salute is worth the price of admission alone, as sampled children’s voices hook on first listen as well as the lively pop rock arrangement does, but don’t grate subsequently as other kids-in-pop production can.

The album’s chiaroscuro balancing act is within individual songs too: the weighty themes of mortality and the love that might deliver the fatal blow are leavened knowingly in At Least I’ll Die with a gigging band room sound that includes some gorgeous guitar solo work.

Elsewhere Shelly’s gift for sampling daily life and building electronica from very organic elements really shines and carries the existential weight of his lyrics effortlessly.

This allows the casual listener to get on with hand washing the household’s fabric face masks happily oblivious to Shelly’s thoughts about oblivion.

The serious headphones crew, though, can unpack the layers of pulsing production or decipher the found sounds of phone calls, billiard balls and kitchen banter such as adorn the rather weightless Table Talk.

A full end-to-end listen will reward the journeying ears, as the panoramic second act gives way to some gentle folk and finally the electro-nocturne of Slow Warm Peace.

This is smart, thoughtful pop that knows the varying attention spans of its housebound or suburb-bound audience and delivers authentic musings with just enough escapism to soundtrack these weird times truly and bearably.

“But if I have to be stuck inside with anyone/ I’m glad I’m stuck with you.”