Easy Life – ‘Junk Food’ review: the new lads from Leicester look set to become a genuine phenomenon

The Leicester band relay globetrotting antics over inventive indie-jazz. They're poised for the stardom in 2020

Easy Life gigs are raucous affairs. Clothing, pints, phones, lemons (a reference to a lyric in 2018 single ‘Nightmares’) and even lead singer Murray Matravers have been known to go soaring through the air at their live shows.

If on a first listen to the Leicester five-piece you’re a bit perplexed – don’t worry, the band are too. When discussing their high-flying exploits, guitarist Lewis Berry recently told NME that he originally thought the crowd would be slightly more docile, but now the antics make him “feel like I’m in Metallica!”.

The band’s third mixtape, ‘Junk Food’ will see them hit the big time. It’s packed with their unique brand of undefinable, genre-bending indie-jazz, plus the hip-hop-influenced sound that they’ve tinkered with since their 2017 arrival, but there’s a decidedly pop edge this time around. There are songs on this mixtape that deserve to be right up there in the UK charts. Whether it’s the funky ‘Nice Guys’, the wonky ‘Earth’ or the tongue-in-cheek ‘Dead Celebrities’, there’s proof here that Easy Life are becoming some of Britain’s most astute and witty songwriters.

It’s perhaps because they have some new experiences to talk about. Last year the five-piece played Coachella – a rarity for a new British band – and spent some time knocking around in California, hooking up with Stateside creatives, the emotional ups-and-downs of these new circumstances relayed on ‘Sangria’ and the homesick ‘Spiders’. Signing to Island Records (home to the likes of Drake and The Weeknd) has enabled them to execute their vision: see the enjoyably ludicrous, Donald Trump-mocking video for ‘Nice Guys’ for an example of the band’s deprecating humour and ambition.

The result is their most cohesive mixtape to date. First there was 2018’s debut excitable  ‘Creature Habits’ and its anthemic lead single ‘Pockets’, while last year’s ‘Spaceships’ saw the band reminisce on the fun-lovin’ weekends (‘Sunday’) and the messy after-parties that follow (‘Afters’).

‘Junk Food’, then, is somewhat of a bumpy crash-landing. There’s ‘Earth’ where Murray muses about the strife and the naysayers life atop a mellow beat: “straight back to Earth, I change my orbit now/I got some issues I need to iron out/People throwing stones but I’m building castles”. The sultry ‘Sangria’ – which features a superb duet with NME 100 alumni Arlo Parks – is where the pair try to make sense of the butterflies flapping around in their stomachs, with the song’s vulnerability and uncertainty are typical of their generation.

‘Dead Celebrities’, meanwhile, is both a wickedly-smart and sobering rumination on the LA lifestyle that they’ve witnessed on their adventures: Murray details the outrageous excess (“riding with models in the back of a cop car / Jump in the pool from the roof of a five-star”) and the dramatic comedown of fame (“I don’t wanna fade out, sign my membership to the 27 club / Everyone around me wants a way out”). After the daft parties in The Hills, he seems more content with returning to Leicester to “walk the Golden Mile”. You can show these boys the world, but their commitment to the East Midlands is steadfast.

There’s little to prevent Easy Life from becoming Britain’s next big band, from transcending cult word-of-mouth status to become a genuine phenomenon. They’ve got the tunes, the killer live show and a welcoming sense of community. Watch out, Metallica, the Masters of Pop Hits are ready to book the flamethrowers soon.

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