"I have to play my weird thing that I don't even know if it's good or not..."
Today is a big day for Rin McArdle. The Melbourne/Naarm-based singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer is dropping her debut self-titled album – a release she didn’t even know was any good when she let her friends, Courtney Barnett and Sarah “Thomo” Thompson from Camp Cope hear it.
“Courtney has been a friend of mine for a little while,” McArdle shares with The Music. “Our friend Thomo had heard the record, but not many other people had heard it. I think she told them about it, but I was really shy at the time and nervous to show anyone because I had no idea if it was the worst; I kind of this made it for me to listen to. I had no idea what I was going to do with it.”
At the time, Camp Cope had just recorded their latest album, Running With The Hurricane, and Courtney Barnett had recorded Things Take Time, Take Time. One night, McArdle and her friends decided to go to Barnett’s flat and listen to each other’s records in a “really safe, beautiful environment”.
They opened some champagne, and then Barnett wrote down numbers on a piece of paper and screwed them up. “And then we picked them out of a bowl or a hat or something, and whatever number you have, you either had to go first, second, or third,” McArdle adds. “I ended up having to go third, and I was like, ‘Fuck, I'm literally no one, and I'm about to listen to these two amazing new records. And then I have to play my weird thing that I don't even know if it's good or not’.
“But it felt supportive and beautiful; they said lovely things afterwards. That definitely played a part in me having the confidence to decide to put it out.”
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Rin McArdle was driven by the singles, including the punchy, 90s indie rock purge of Famous, the commanding album opener Splinters, and the stunning duet, Something Blue, featuring Camp Cope vocalist Georgia Maq. The album is instantly one of the strongest Australian releases in the rock and Americana space this year, and most of the achievement stems from McArdle’s voice and storytelling.
The album finds the Melbourne artist in many modes – from enraged to tender and back again, in her journey to find the light at the end of the tunnel after eight personal tracks.
On Rin McArdle, listeners get to be part of a journey through McArdle’s life, from growing up in Adelaide as a young, queer person forced to listen to a conservative, anti-LGBTQ+ preacher, to struggles with heroin addiction, getting clean, and the turmoil of being with a controlling partner after everything she’d been through.
“That was my way of describing how heroin addiction works because it's so all-encompassing, and it's your whole life and overrides everything,” McArdle tells The Music about Something Blue.
But the album isn’t all darkness. “Some of the topics are pretty heavy, and they explore things that aren't always explored in that much depth in other music, so I just hope that the songs find people that they resonate with and that the songs bring comfort,” McArdle says.
She adds, “That’s all you can really want. Some of the most powerful moments I've had listening to music have been when I feel like that song was written specifically just for you. It helps you feel less alone in the world. I don't really mind what happens with the record; I just hope that it brings comfort to a few people. It's why we love music.”
Rin McCardle is out now. You can listen to the album below and buy it from Bandcamp.