E^ST — I’M DOING IT (7/31/20)

It was around this time one year ago that E^ST released this album’s lead single “TALK DEEP.” I was aware of the South-African born Australian artist but it was with this song that I fully jumped on board. The song’s bouncy bass and stomping rhythm along with the off-your-feet breakdown was immediately infectious and the Fall song ended up landing in my top 50 of the year.

“TALK DEEP” joins 12 other songs that navigate heartbreak and mental health struggles for this young artist on her debut full-length.

The album takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. “FIT FOR COMPANY” acts as a somber introduction as E^ST insists that she’s not “fit for company,” her mind still reeling from an apparent breakup. The following “FLIGHT PATH” displays her piano-pop style with a tremendous uplift of humming synths and a stomping clap beat in the refrain. She laments having to watch the planes by herself since her partner moved away.

The chipper somewhat bubblegum-pop of “MAYBE IT’S ME” has her wondering if she’s the root of all her bad luck and the orchestral-infused “FRESH OUT OF LOVE” seems to have her nearly giving up on love altogether.

The pulsing soft synths in “FOUND SOMEBODY” always makes me think of the song “Dirty Laundry” by All Time Low. They set the mood in the wonderfully spacious chorus where E^ST struggles to come to terms with her ex finding someone else.

It’s at the halfway point of the album where E^ST starts to switch to a more positive mindset with the song “TURN.” It works as an interlude between the two halves of the album, separating the songs about heartbreak from the more hopeful songs. It’s about as raw as the album gets, with E^ST and an acoustic guitar as she sings about turning things around and essentially moving on.

It makes an effective transition into “TALK DEEP” which comes in at the perfect moment on the album. After the rather bleak first half, the song pulls you out of the slump with a refreshed energy. Instead of dwelling on heartbreak, it embraces the feelings that come with finding that someone you want to stay up all night talking to. It was my first taste of the album and it remains my favourite, holding even more strength to it within the context of the surrounding songs.

The rest of the album doesn’t have her finding love, but rather embracing life without it.

“NO ONE WITH YOU” follows a soft, friendly beat and has a bit of sadistic humour to it. E^ST finds a connection with someone else recently out of a relationship and says, “I’m happy being with no one with you.”

“WALKING HOME IN THE RAIN” has an uplifting quality to it. For anyone who uses music as a form of therapy or an escape, this song is very relatable. E^ST finds herself doing the same. When everything else in her life is like a rain cloud hanging over her, she puts on her headphones and listens to her favourite song.

It’s a similar theme on the jittery “GET THROUGH.” She admits she’s a mess but she tells herself that things will get better and that she will ultimately “get through” it.

“I WANNA BE HERE” is the strongest song on the album outside of “TALK DEEP.” The penultimate track has her admitting to feelings of depression but acknowledging that there’s still fight in her. The dancing piano as the song builds brings up similarities to a song like 2017’s Green Light by Lorde. It builds to an empowering dance-breakdown in the final minute that delivers some of the album’s strongest reward.

The closing title track lands a little soft following the surge of emotion in “I WANNA BE HERE.” Slow piano keys move over a snappy 808 beat and the verses kind of float by but I am definitely drawn in by the chorus. It finally has E^ST sounding assured about things and telling her ex she’s doing fine without them.

The album as a whole is a great showing of easy alternative heartbreak-pop. They’re all catchy but I find most of it to be easy listening rather than truly impactful listening. The best moments come when the music is fully let loose with the danceable breakdowns on “FLIGHT PATH,” “TALK DEEP,” and “I WANNA BE HERE.” Though she does really hit me with the more subtle emotion felt on “FOUND SOMEBODY.”