The artwork for Easy Life’s debut album, ‘Life’s A Beach’ – a car sinking in the middle of a beaming bright blue ocean – is a pretty apt one. The Leicester band have always excelled at taking with the rough with the smooth; for every song about wet weekends and after partys, there were moments of introspection and anguish about frontman Murray Matravers’ mental health and general world-weariness. The car in the water is sinking, but not quite down and out – it’s up to the listener to decide whether it could bob back up and miraculously make it back to shore.
‘Life’s A Beach’ toes that line between serenity and uncertainty once more. The album’s concept was based around the boys’ aspiration and romanticism of the British seaside, having grown up in the county deemed the centre of England. But as their journey unfurled – a Top 10 mixtape with ‘Junk Food’ and winners of Best New British Act at the NME Awards in 2020 – they realised it’s all a sham. “We’ve been there, done that and just want to go back now,” frontman Matravers tells NME in this week’s Big Read cover story. “The band has become something bigger than any of us wanted it to be: it’s enabled us to live and connect with the people in the present.”
And connect they have. Their growth since 2017 debut single ‘Pockets’ has been brilliant ride; they’ve collaborated with Arlo Parks (2019’s ‘Sangria’), played at Coachella and amassed an army of lairy, devoted fans in the UK – later this year the band are booked in for two shows at London’s O2 Academy Brixton as well as a homecoming arena show in Leicester.
For those celebratory moments, there’s the groovy house-pop of ‘Skeletons’ as well as breezy indie-jam ‘Have A Great Day’. The chaotic closer ‘Music To Walk Home To’, during which Murray shouts out the curly characters he encounters on the stagger to bed after a night out (two men in fancy dress as bananas), matches his mindset to never overthink the songwriting too much.
A melancholy streak runs through the album’s second half where tales of devotion (‘Lifeboat’), longing (‘Daydreams’) and ruminations on mental health and anxiety (‘Nightmares’, ‘Living Strange’) shine. The woozy ‘Ocean View’ is a natural successor to Powfu’s 2020 megahit ‘Coffee’, sampling and speeding up emerging US artist Emelia Ali’s ‘Loved The Ocean’ for their own gain; one to soundtrack the glum train ride home from the seaside after the ice cream melted and your date was more smitten by the penny slots than you.
‘Homesickness’, the song which marries both sides of Easy Life’s creative output, is the most intriguing songwriting moment, though. Built around an arpeggiated synth line that Murray deemed too affecting to throw away, with his speak-sing vocals he is both cheeky (“you turn me on like Nintendo”) and hopelessly romantic (“if I could catch the moon and stars and pull them closer just for you, then I would”). But most of all, he makes clear that he misses the simpler life and relationships of old; it is wistful, but not without some element of hope. Like that car bobbing between disaster and salvation, everything’s still to play for.
- Release date: May 28
- Record label: Island