Album Review: Phoebe Go – Marmalade (2024 LP)

The success of an artist is often difficult to predict. The continued rise of Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Phoebe Go however, feels inevitable.

From her early days in Snakadakdal to her recent tenure in Two People, Go’s musical journey culminates in her excellent debut solo album Marmalade, released on Friday.

As sweet as its title suggests, Marmalade offers an 8-song journey of heartfelt epiphanies and achingly honest introspection. Building on recent singles “Leave” and “Stupid”, Go proves she certainly has something special to offer.

Marmalade is a shimmering, alt-pop genre fusion built on shuffling drums, simple yet effective guitar riffs, and cruising vocals. Produced by ARIA nominated Simon Lam (Charli XCX, Cub Sport, Gretta Ray), the album has a sound that is both polished and intimate. Lam’s production complements Go’s song craft, maintaining a delicate balance between folk and pop sensibilities to find their cruising altitude, avoiding all the turbulence.

The song writing on Marmalade reflects the bittersweet nature of love with a delicate balance of vulnerability and resilience. Through her candid and nonplussed delivery, Phoebe Go continually reaches out to say “Yeah, you know that feeling? I’ve been there too”.

The opening track “Love You Now” is initiated by thumping drums and a heavy sigh reserved for a tough conversation. Breezing by with a rhythmic, trance-like quality, it seamlessly transitions into the bittersweet pop sounds of “Something You Were Trying”. Navigating tough emotions with grace and authenticity these tracks masterfully juggle rather sad lyrical content with hook-filled sensibilities. Lines like: “…you were never really mine, and I was just something you were trying” will paradoxically have heads bobbing.

Third and title-track “Marmalade” stands out as a poignant showcase of Go’s capacity to pen infectious melodies and supply emotive vocals, and proves a worthy choice to bear the LP’s name.

With upbeat pop stylings “7-Up” offers a refreshing change of pace, while – coincidentally – examining change and what it means to look back with fresh eyes. The guitar is a standout, elevated by subtle electric slide work and harmonics.

“Stupid” goes deeper, packed with raw vulnerability, laying bare the pain of heartbreak and jealousy. While Go’s heart is often worn on her sleeve, “Stupid” is closer to open heart surgery. Lyrics like “I never loved you for fun, I did it because it hurt” and “You’re doing all the shit that we did, and it’s perfect” cut clean and deep.

“Good Fight” further highlights Go’s knack for crafting memorable hooks. And, with an unabashedly juvenile sweetness, “Leave” is the arguable standout, entering its chorus with “are you gonna la-la-leave me?” An endearing tune surely earning itself regular rotations in playlists far and wide.

As the whispered harmonies of “Rainbow Hotel” bring Marmalade to its end, the album emerges as a pure example of juxtaposition. An offering that is somehow both energetic, yet low maintenance listening; light in its presentation but deep in its messaging.

The albums sonic consistency is both its strength and biggest weakness. Leaning heavy on singular themes of relationships and heartbreak, those seeking variety may find Go’s offering here repetitive in both style and subject matter. Yet, for fans of Go’s honest lyricism and alt-pop sound, it also offers a captivating journey worth exploring. AC/DC’s discography wouldn’t have been improved by a reggae offering wedged somewhere between Thunderstruck and Back in Black, right?

Go’s vocal delivery is also a matter of taste. Rarely escaping a canter or aiming to soar, she still delivers lines with biting clarity and a vulnerability wrapped in velvet melancholy. However, with an LP so audibly dreamy, you might just miss its content if you’re not paying attention.

As the album ends it’s uncertain if its us or Phoebe who could use a hug more. The tracks from this release however, surely won’t be be la-la leaving your head anytime soon. A dreamy, catchy, and emotionally resonant debut from Phoebe Go, Marmalade is a blend of introspective song writing and infectious melodies that ensures its tunes will linger long after the final track fades.

This solo effort proves Phoebe Go is poised for great success. Bet against her at your own peril.


Marmalade is out 17th May 2024.  Listen HERE

Catch Phoebe live on the following dates:

June 6th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne – tickets/info HERE
June 20th – Phoenix Central Park, Sydney – ticket ballot/info HERE
June 22nd – Brightside, Brisbane (part of SILO 21) – tickets/info HERE