Design Desire: Abbe May hits all the right notes

album design desire by abbe may

Greatly enjoying Abbe May’s latest album, Design Desire. It’s one of those long-players that demands the attention of your ears and, while it offers some killer tracks, it provides a complete journey as an album.

The Aussie singer, from Perth, kicks off with the title song, an urgent introduction to the nine tracks that follow. It’s hard to disregard, and once you’re hooked, there’s no wiggling away.

She knows her songcraft, varying light and shade throughout the album and within the songs. ‘Taurus Chorus’ goes from electric guitar wail to sublime croon, for instance; on ‘Mammalian Locomotion‘, the guitars howl like the tyres of dragging cars. There’s lonely echo on ‘Universes’; steel guitar meets slow jazzy groove on ‘No Sleep Tonight’.

The beat varies, too, but blues rock is never far away – ‘Cast That Devil Out’ is hard to go past, and ‘You Could Be Mine’ is a showcase tune. Throughout, there are shades of Sonic Youth, Siouxsie Sioux and the White Stripes, amongst others. ‘Carolina’ has the country guitar soundscape that suggests the song should be set much farther west.

And then the end, ‘Blood River’, a drifting, piano-driven dirge that lasts just long enough, letting the listener go gently.

The vocals mirror the superb guitar control, too, from soft to snarl, delivering musicality as well as lyrics, changing to suit the needs of the song, carrying the emotion.

There’s an honest, almost live, feel to this album. One of the year’s best.

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