Easy Life’s debut album, Life’s A Beach, doesn’t quite transport the listener to the idyllic coastline setting as the title suggests. Still, the record provides a rollercoaster full of heartache, euphoria and everything in-between — even if there isn’t an ice cream in sight.
Ever since dropping their debut single, ‘Pockets’, in 2017, Easy Life were quickly snapped up by Island Records and have since consistently dripped out a flurry of mixtapes — but all roads have been leading towards Life’s A Beach. Of course, the simple option would have been to take the easy road, glueing together an LP of previously released tracks in a sort of indie-pop papier mache. Instead, Easy Life have served up a debut record that signposts their progress, offering the clearest exhibition of how they have evolved as an outfit.
An album is still the definitive form of expression to understand an artist best, and Easy Life manage to express the full breadth of their multi-faceted personality across Life’s A Beach. Their break-out track, ‘Nightmares’, released back in 2018, does feature on the record, but apart from that, the album is unheard material bar the tornado of singles that they’ve shared in recent months.
The opening track, ‘A Message To Myself’, sets the tone in an obscure manner, but weirdly, it perfectly allows the listener to become fully prepared for the journey that Easy Life are about to take them on. The track is playful, optimistic, yet there is a sincere message at the heart of it, as singer Murray Matravers declares: “Take your mother’s advice/ Never let her tell you twice/ Give more than you get/ Forgive but don’t forget/ And go outside and earn your stripes.”
This record isn’t going to change the world with a stringent great political philosophy, and there’s nothing grandiose or self-important about it, but that all plays into their accidental everyman charm. Life’s A Beach provides snapshot after snapshot of Middle England life, and they prove that there is beauty underneath the grey skies of mundanity. Album closer, ‘Music To Walk Home To’, sees Matravers blurt out his late-night intoxicated thoughts on the back of a few drinks on a school night, all delivered on top of a jazzy beat, the singer left pining for cheese on toast with Lea & Perrins a la Mike Skinner.
‘Skeletons’ is the most bombastic moment on the album. It’s a song filled with nervous anticipation about starting a new journey, along with the trepidation that it’s all going to end in tears. ‘Compliments’ is a soulful number that finds Matravers suffering from a bout of unrequited love, as he sings: “You didn’t turn up to my show last week, But everything went well, so thanks for asking.”
While the production does lean into the stylistics of modern pop, especially on ‘Lifeboat’ and ‘Ocean View’, Easy Life carry it off in the distinct manner that has made them stand out from the rest of the pack. ‘Lifeboat’ also sees Matravers deal with mental health woes in an honest and frank fashion that we’ve come to expect from the group.
‘Living Strange’ captures Matravers at his darkest hour. On the track, he anxiously sings: “Suicidal thoughts, I tell the taxi to drive slow, 999 it’s a friendly emergency, But fuck knows what I was thinking, I hang myself from the ceiling, It’s a real pretty art installation.”
The album was largely written by the band throughout the initial lockdown last year, and the bleak reality of that period is reflective in the introspective writing. However, the sunny side to their sound is never too far away, even when the lyrics return to a sombre outlook. Easy Life, as an entity, is not a whimsical carefree outfit that they might come across at first glance. They’re not scared to get deep and show their three-dimensional side, which is an unconventional pop tour de force crammed with outsider anthems.
Life’s A Beach shows Easy Life at their most vulnerable and freewheeling, but all underpinned with a rare level of candid opinion that makes the record uber-relatable without ever trying too hard to do so. The album is a manifestation of the day to day highs and lows of young adulthood with nothing left off the table.