Hold onto your cowboy hats, Australian country trio The McClymonts are dropping new music for the first time in three years today. Their sixth record Mayhem to Madness is the McClymont sisters doing what they do best: singing from the heart and harmonising like hell to make one helluva country-pop hybrid.
The album’s title refers to Brooke, Sam and Mollie’s duelling lives between raising young families and touring on the road. In a forthcoming interview with Music Feeds though, Brooke admitted that the title only feels even more fitting as 2020 unfolds and Coronavirus continues to keep the live music industry held hostage.
The 10-song tracklist is made up of a mix of brand new numbers and songs that didn’t quite fit on 2017’s Endless but felt at home here. The McClymonts prefer sincerity over sweeping metaphors when it comes to their songwriting, so most of the album follows a strong narrative that emerged from a real place.
Mayhem to Madness bursts open with the anthemic ‘Part Time Phase’ which is about looking at the big picture when you’re blinded by the heat of a fight: “The grass ain’t always greener on the other side of town.” Although it wasn’t planned, the trio noticed that a pattern started to form as the songs fell into place. Many of the tunes, such as ‘Free Fall’ (“Everybody has an arrow, if you go and listen to yourself you will know where to follow”), the acoustic ‘Open Heart’ (“There’s no ooh-la-las or fancy cars when you’re travelling”) and the moving ‘Lighthouse Home’ (“No matter what I do or where I go, yeah your love reminds me that I’m not alone”) are about holding on to the things that ground us.
One lyrical standout that veers from this theme is the track ‘Wish You Hell’, in which Brooke puts herself in the shoes of a woman scorned. While she was witnessing some relationships breaking down around her, she often respected her female friends’ strength and ability to take the high road. However, she admits that she’s not sure if she’d be so forgiving if the cowboy boot was on her foot. While the heartstring-tugging balladry sounds like your classic breakup track, the contrastingly stinging lyrics pack a surprising punch. “Have a good life, I hope it all works out alright and in good, good time, I hope you treat her well and I wish you hell,” Brooke croons over the chorus.
On the flip side, the stripped back ‘Looking For Perfect’ is a country ballad in its truest form. Over striking keys and a strumming guitar, they sing of falling in love with imperfections and not having to question your worth in a relationship. The album also includes a gorgeous cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Little Lies’, an iconic hit that has featured on The McClymonts’ live setlists for years. Out of respect for the band, the trio kept their tribute pretty close to the original and their harmonies complement it beautifully. After working with the McClymonts on their 2017 record Endless, producer Andy Mak helped bring the sound to life once again on Mayhem to Madness. In a formula that has proven successful by the likes of Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves, they also trusted Mak to amp up their quintessential country sound with some poppier beats on tracks like ‘Good Advice’ and ‘I Got This’.
Mayhem to Madness stays true to The McClymonts roots and that’s how they like it. They don’t cloak their stories in concepts, so every song feels sincere. Long-time fans will be relieved that they don’t stray too far from their usual sound, but the occasional sonic experimentation adds playfulness and element of surprise to the album.
‘Mayhem to Madness’ is out now. The band have also announced an album launch event bringing fans from across the globe together for ‘Songs from Mayhem to Madness’, a live stream session, hosted on Facebook tomorrow at 6pm AEST.