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In Short: Abbe May ‘Design Desire’

The cover of Perth-based singer/songwriter Abbe May’s third album ‘Design Desire’ is a fitting representation of her music, which is something of a convergence between raw sexuality and a dark, brooding atmosphere. She’s certainly not the first person to attempt this deliberately provocative style, but in the album’s finer moments she pulls it off pretty well.

Opening track and single Design Desire for example packs a powerful punch with a roaring guitar line and plenty of vocal reverb. It’s already been featured on a Fox Sports advert, and it’s not hard to imagine why: it’s an adrenaline fueled riot of a song, and also introduces one of the greatest strengths of ‘Design Desire’, layered vocals, which feature throughout the album to great effect.

This reaches its peak with Blood River, a ballad driven by fantastic harmonies that almost make you forget the song is about having an affair with a married man. Mammalian Locomotion meanwhile demonstrates just how distinctive May’s voice is, with dark, brooding verses that break into violent instrumental choruses to release the tension.

‘Design Desire’ demonstrates Abbe May’s personality as a musician perfectly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. While there’s plenty of variety in the tracks here, there are also tons of constants, such as heavy guitar lines, vocal reverb, and a brooding atmosphere that  only really finds release through instrumentation. For while the guitar and bass and drums grow and fade rapidly throughout the album, May’s voice for the most part remains comparatively restrained, threatening to erupt but never doing so. If these stylistic choices aren’t to your liking, then this probably isn’t the album for you.

But for those after some gritty and grungey rock performed by an edgy and charismatic frontwoman, then look no further than ‘Design Desire’.  

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