REVIEW: In Earnest – reasons to stay alive

Let’s make something clear straight away. The second EP from the Southend band in earnest, reasons to stay alive, is a triumph. An absolute thing of beauty.

The gapless record comprises of 6 songs and it deals with everything. Our demons, love, how we have monumentally fucked up the Earth and, of course, dogs.

Their sound is more expansive. Richer. They sound more sure of themselves. More aware. Confident in their sounds and their words. The entire album is so smooth. Each song fades into the other seamlessly, which makes this EP an absolute wonder to listen to. Try as I might, it’s difficult for me to come up with something that I don’t like about this EP.

I talked to 2/3 of in earnest last year. They had only released a couple of songs then and were a couple of weeks from releasing their first self titled EP in earnest. When I asked them about their music, the usual why’s and the what’s, one thing became clear as day. They jot their souls on paper, and sing for their lives. And it is boldly evident here.

The EP starts with the song ‘the days in between’.  One of the first lines of the song is “I should have died last year”. From the get go you’re aware that what you’re about to listen to is personal. Deeply personal.

2020 was a shitty year, and 2021 hasn’t really been much of an improvement. Regardless of where we are from, or where we live, we have all been through the ringer. It’s impossible to have come out unscathed. To pretend otherwise would just be phoning it in.

If you’ve heard their previous EP, you know that they are not afraid of being honest. Sarah, who incidentally also sings the first track, compared putting her struggles down on paper and then into song to a form of therapy. We are made aware of her headspace from the first line. And her mind isn’t a particularly kind space to be. There’s befuddlement there. Some guilt. And disbelief. But as we move forward there are reaffirmations too. Existence is a burden. Its not easy. But everyday we remind ourselves, no matter how difficult, that despite everything there is still beauty in this world. We pick ourselves up, and we keep moving.

The second song ‘I feel alone even if I am not’ features Thomas on the lead vocals. It’s a beautiful song that slowly builds up to a gorgeous rapture. The instrumentation throughout this entire album is just top notch.

By the time the third song rolls around they’re just showing off. ‘ Comforts of home’ is such a warm track. It’s sounds like something that Carter Burwell might have composed. Tony’s genius and talent shines through and through. Utterly gorgeous.

The second half of the album starts with the tracks ‘humans’ and it’s is in the second half that they start to emulate their influences a bit. You can hear the influence of artists like Julian Baker in the second half.(in earnest are big Julien Baker fans) . But that’s not a bad thing. Not at all. Because underneath the influence, they do manage to hold on to their distinctness. To their own sound.

Its been such a pleasure to listen to in earnest over the past year. To see them navigate their way through, and come out on top with breathtaking results. From halfway across the world, I am cheering them on.

Words by Rihaab Reyaz

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