"Apocalypse Pop". Those are the words Jackson Scott used to describe the music on his full-length debut, Melbourne, but its veracity depends on your own version of the end-times. This is more "whimper" than "bang," but let that be taken as an insult. The twelve tracks here are lonely, spacey, and despondent, but Scott's gift for melody makes for an engaging listen. This is a brand of lo-fi shoegaze that sounds (purposefully so) like it was recorded in Scott's own bedroom. The use of lo-fi makes Melbourne feel immediate, and even personal, even though there's a strange distance that Scott keeps between himself and the listener.
The most frustrating thing about Melbourne is its lack of cohesion. Songs seem to either stop abruptly by being interrupted by the next track, or they meander until they run out of gas. This quality makes the album feel more like a collection of bedroom demos, or an amalgamation of ideas, rather than a full-length record. It doesn't help that only two tracks go longer than the 3 minute mark; there's just not enough time for some of the atmospheres to really establish themselves. Songs like "Sweet Nothing" and "Evie" rank about the album's strongest because the melodies and atmosphere are both given enough time to coexist and work together. The instrumental tracks range from the boring (introductory track "Only Eternal") to the promising ("Wish Upon"). Unfortunately, Scott doesn't spend enough time with these ideas to allow them to fully develop.
Jackson Scott's debut Melbourne shows a singer-songwriter with plenty of potential. This is an artist that can create a beautifully lonely atmosphere and a killer melody, but he's still working on getting both of those things to work at once. Some songs ("Any Way", "That Awful Sound") have great melodies, but in their current state, they feel too rough and undeveloped. Make no mistake, Scott is a songwriter to keep an eye on; he's young (20, at the time of Melbourne's release), and it won't be surprising if/when he turns out a great album in the next few years. It took Cloud Nothing's Dylan Baldi a few records to adjust his craft and release an unqualified success (2012's Attack on Memory). Jackson Scott has all the right ingredients; he just put it all together.