Pleaser – Georgia Maq

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Famous for her fiery vocals and scathing lyrics as the leader of Melbourne punk trio Camp Cope, Georgia McDonald mostly puts aside her guitar for her debut solo album, which instead embraces warm synth melodies and hiccuping beats. Despite that slow-burn deconstruction of her usual delivery—which before Camp Cope manifested as emotional acoustic folk—McDonald is still a commanding presence. She makes the absolute most of her robust singing range, even dropping to a whisper at one point against the pinprick beats of “Driving Blind.”

Yet she belts out hard-earned catharsis when needed, and settles in naturally with the club-ready bass thump of certain tracks. Working with Melbourne electronic gurus Darcy Baylis and Katie Dey, McDonald exploits an array of backdrops that range from the R&B-shaded minimalism of opener “Away From Love” to the gurgling quasi-disco turns of the title track. While not as openly political as Camp Cope, Pleaser ends up just as powerful by not relying on guitars and full-band dynamics. When she repeats the invitation “If you ever wanna come back” on the closing “Big Embarrassing Heart,” it’s open and unguarded in a way that burns bright and new.

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