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Review: Easy Life’s Lunchtime Session and Signing at Rough Trade

19 January 20 words: Bobby Twidale

Following their newest 'Junk Food' mixtape release, the Midlands group paid a visit to Notts one lazy Sunday afternoon for a laid-back in store set, featuring some greasy garms. Bobby Twidale tells all...

Fresh from the announcement of their success in the BBC Sound of 2020 poll – runners-up to Celeste, putting them at the table with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Frank Ocean – there was a joyous self-confidence to Murray, Sam, Lew, Jordan and Cass of Easy Life as they took to the stage at Rough Trade Nottingham.

The first of two short sets, there was a laid-back Sunday afternoon ambience that made for a sweet marriage with the intimacy of the upstairs venue.

The crowd were properly up for it; lyrics etched, voices warmed up and phone cameras ready. Predominantly Gen-Zers, there was a lot of love in the room for the local five-piece who credit Notts with a key role in their early creative process. Easy Life mix their genres in a way that defies definition but keeps their indie sound fresh and compelling.

Lead singer, Murray Matravers, who honoured the release of their new mix tape, Junk Food (and a bet with a friend) by coming as a hot dog, kept his shoes and clothes on; this was not the moment for his trademark naked crowd-surfing. No doubt the row of mums and dads at the back of the room were grateful for that.

The set list kicked off with Earth, a poke at our mistreatment of our home planet and its natural resources; Greta would have leaned in further but somehow the lyrics better captured the zeitgeist of the demographic of the audience.

The acoustics were on-point for the vibe of their sound and, amped-down for the smaller venue, the musicality came to the fore. Sam’s sax paired with Murray on trumpet brought a real feel of speak-easy jazz club and Jordan’s versatility sang through.

They worked their way through the new mixtape material with established crowd-pleasers like Sunday and Temporary Love Pt 2 thrown in for good measure. Backing vocals were provided as usual by the audience, today angelic and blissed-out rather than a raucous choir. They were word-perfect through every lyric of every song, even Dead Celebrities, released just two days before.

True to form, the melancholy-leaning narrative of the lyrics is as eclectic as their sound, telling the stories, experiences and anxieties of the fans with a poetry that mixes youth-speak with the philosophical, “Euphoric and unbalanced like two top-heavy fractions,” sitting comfortably alongside, “All your best friends think I’m a waste man.” Weirdly at odds with the upbeat characters of the band members, though.

The crowd, including the parents, swayed, grinned and nodded to tracks that at once resonated but were uniquely unlike anything they’d heard before. Inches from the band’s noses, their fans cheered the announcement of every track and the positive energy was tangible. Cass, never one to stay put behind his drumkit, couldn’t stop himself roaming the stage, leading the singing, clapping.

The set wound up, of course, with the anthemic Nightmares and then Pockets, the track that started it all.

Coming in at number three, The Junk Food EP was the highest new entry on the Official Albums Chart on the week of its release and London’s upcoming Roundhouse show, where they’ll be accompanied by the beautiful vocals of Arlo Parks, has sold out. Easy Life are living their best life and judging by the crowd in Notts, no-one’s going to begrudge them a minute of it.

Easy Life’s Junk Food Mix Tape tour live set and signing took place at Rough Trade Nottingham, Sunday 12 January 2020.

Rough Trade website.

Easy Life on Facebook.

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