Easy Life – ‘Maybe In Another Life…’ review: soulful snapshots grappling with post-pandemic strife
It doesn’t take long to reach the heart of Easy Life‘s second album, ‘Maybe In Another Life…’. Just a minute into opening track ‘Growing Pains’, lead vocalist Murray Matravers offers: “I’ve been moving lateral, horizontal, vertical”, speak-singing in a conversational tone, describing the pace of his band’s past few years. Since 2017, the Leicester five-piece’s natural, collective charisma and prolific output – including three mixtapes in as many years – has given them a cult fanbase, its size and loyalty exemplified by the scale of the band’s forthcoming UK tour, which will take in London’s 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace and a number of arena shows next spring.
Less thematic than 2021 debut ‘Life’s A Beach’ – a loose concept record about adjusting to adulthood against a backdrop of the seaside – ‘Maybe In Another Life…’ is a snapshot of post-pandemic life, specifically the moment where the future starts approaching so fast it begins to look like the present. This is a sincere, soulful collection of songs brimming with honesty and humble perseverance.
As a group, led by Matravers’ pronounced vision, Easy Life paint in tiny, precise brush strokes from a warm and familiar tonal palette. The 15 tracks pull from a very specific set of sonic reference points: the warm rap cadences of Mac Miller, and flecks of Dâm-Funk’s bubbly smooth grooves. Drenched in sun-dappled, lightly buzzy synths, Kevin Abstract team-up ‘Dear Miss Holloway’ rides out on an extended breakdown; the wide-open groove has an unhurried feel, as though this is a band giving themselves room to stretch.
As the album twists and turns through hazy recollections of youthful mistakes (the cheerfully glum ‘Bubble Wrap’) and crumbling relationships (‘OTT’, featuring a punchy verse from New Zealand pop upstart BENEE) there’s a mesmerising rhythm throughout, a kind of rocking horse motion that spurs you on to the next track. ‘Silver Lining’’s low-key funk suggests The Internet, or even ‘Malibu’-era Anderson .Paak; the whimsy, however, is all Matravers’. “Opportunities come and go like cheap drinks”, he sings through a half-mumble, before listing seemingly anything that may lift his spirits for a few seconds. “But cheese and beans and paint-stained jeans / Inhaling canisters made for whipped cream in my teens.”
The album’s central and wistful soul continues to fit Matravers like his oldest, cosiest hoodie. He may be unable to escape his own head, as he laments on ‘Basement’, but he’s decided to make himself as comfortable as possible while he’s working on getting out of there. Yet there are times when he shares his small victories, and sounds like someone’s cheeky and troubled little brother made good in the process. “I finally paid my dealers back!”, he exclaims on ‘Crocodile Tears’, his energy and fervour amplified like never before. Even when he’s half-joking, Matravers’ hopefulness can feel like a beacon.
Release date: October 7, 2022
Label: Island Records
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