Melina Duterte, who operates under the moniker Jay Som, has experienced a sharp upward trajectory since she drunkenly dropped her debut collection via Bandcamp. Whereas Turn Into was a hastily released random selection of nine songs that were effectively demos (albeit ones that displayed a surprising level of polish and promise given their lo-fi inception), Everybody Works is more like her debut proper. The record's title refers to Duterte's experience of familial cynicism toward her career choice. On the title track she sings: "My folks don't think it's right to be living in a shell," but pleads for understanding, "I'm a good kid/I swear I don't lie/I'll get a job/Turn into one lovely guy." Given the quality of this record, her insistence is likely to be thoroughly vindicated.
Everybody Works opens with the dreamy "Lipstick Stains," which suggests a brighter sound than the D.I.Y. production and layered distortion her first collection afforded. Despite containing a multitude of catchy tracks, Turn Into was very much entrenched in lo-fi indie production aesthetics. But songs like "One More Time, Please" prove she isn't afraid to mine her ability to create silky smooth pop. The same can be said of the single "Baybee"; cutesy title aside, its hazily intoxicating chorus is yet another example of how she has pulled her songwriting into sharper focus. The leaps she's made with this recording make the fact that it was made in her bedroom and, bar the mastering, is entirely her own work all the more surprising given the level of nuanced detail on show. That's not to say that Duterte has abandoned her inclinations toward bedroom pop, alt-rock, and shoegaze. "1 Billion Dogs" marries a syrupy-sweet melody with an abrasive wash of crunching guitar riffs, which lead into a warped solo; "Take It" builds into a sonically busy rush before you've had chance to notice; and "(BedHead)" features a dizzying guitar line whose rhythm and tone sounds buckled.
Each track contains an array of imaginative touches that subtly add depth to the record. Lyrically, the album is preoccupied with the kind of angst and self-doubt that you might expect from an artist in her early twenties, but the level of humility and tenderness Duterte conjures sidesteps whiny self-obsession. The laid-back delivery of "The Bus Song" belies a tightly crafted pop hook and sharply honest confession: "Take time to figure it out/I'll be the one that sticks around/And I just want you to need me." Sprawling closer "For Light" delves into intimate details and difficult conclusions: "On the small of your back I traced a line to carve/And signed my resignation/I'll break to chew on glass." And all the while her quiet delivery serves to heighten that intimacy. Everybody Works displays huge breadth, which is often disguised by a relaxed pace and its effortless segues between styles. Given what a fine record she had produced here, it's very likely just the beginning for this bright new talent whose youthful angst is contradicted by the confidence present in her compositions.