Record Reviews

Track: Rich Kids

For most of the past two decades, saying you wrote pop music was like saying you were in love with your sister: it just wasn’t accepted (unless you’re from [Adelaide]( ?ed). But like most Gen Y’ers, I grew up immersed in ?70s and ?80s pop music, so it was only a matter of time before the genre came full circle. Coupled with the emergence of indie rock, all of a sudden singing hooks was kosher again. Pop music: it’s not like incest anymore.

Melbourne’s Washington – led by our eponymous hero Megan Washington – sit somewhere between ?70s pop and Noughties indie rock. They remind me of Rilo Kiley if they listened to Phil Spector instead of Fleetwood Mac. Off the back of minor-key, introverted tunes such as ?Clementine? and [?How To Tame Lions?](/tv/3779761), ?Rich Kids? is Washington’s most unashamed pop song to date. The song is built on a foundation of widescreen melodies, driven by a simple, direct piano lick and augmented by glockenspiel and guitars that are soaked in slap-back reverb.

Megan Washington is Australia’s Jenny Lewis, her outward confidence and spark hiding a vulnerability that comes through her lyrics. In ?Rich Kids?, you can feel Megan’s anxiousness: ?Everybody’s coming down, or throwing up, or sleeping round/I remember why I left this town.? Her honeyed voice portrays a figure who feels uneasy in these kinds of post-gig situations that concertina into debauchery. It might be simple, or feel like a throwaway platitude, but the chorus captures the mood of ?Rich Kids? perfectly: ?I don’t want to dance with you/So please do not ask me to.? The song kicks into double time here, heightening the anxiety even more. It’s a beautiful, subtle way to bring out the song’s emotion.

Despite the disquieted lyrical content, there’s an assured confidence that comes through ?Rich Kids?. Megan and the band’s other main songwriter John Castle have the brashness to attempt a song like this, and they pull it off with aplomb, replete with half bars and fluctuating time changes. It’d almost be a crossover commercial hit if there wasn’t so much dirt under their fingernails, which in the end gives this song its charm.

If this is indicative of the band’s forthcoming debut record, Washington is on its way to becoming one of Australia’s best exponents of intelligent, deftly crafted pop music.