EP: BLAB – ‘Word Of Mouth’

Formed of three previously released singles and a brand new track, Southend-based musician BLAB‘s debut EP Word Of Mouth is the sound of what happens when you fully embrace your own choices and lean into the raw power each moment. Released via Cool Thing Records, BLAB aka Frances Murray combines direct lyrics with infectious guitar riffs to push past personal and political frustrations, providing her listeners with sharply observed judgements on both.

Fuelled by her disdain for current political policies, opener ‘Eton Mess’ is a rumbling “anti-fascist anthem” that proudly sticks two fingers up to the establishment. It’s one of two tracks that see BLAB take aim at the crushing nature of conformity, with the restless  ‘Insurance’ providing another dose of much needed eye-rolling at conventional ideas of power and success.

It’s on new “anti-love song” ‘If Only’ and astrology-inspired single ‘Gemini’ that BLAB is at her strongest – refreshingly vulnerable with her revelations but still retaining her rebellious attitude. Lyrically, ‘If Only’ is littered with heteronormative paraphernalia, culminating in the realisation that you can’t rely on someone else to be the foundation of your happiness. On ‘Gemini’, she filters the pain of unrequited love filtered through an astrological lens, combining catchy guitar riffs with her bittersweet lyrics to work through her mixed emotions.

On Word Of Mouth, BLAB cuts through barbed emotional moments, softening unsettling realisations and firmly communicating her anti-establishment, anti-ego message. “I’m not even really consciously trying to do anything,” BLAB comments about her EP, “I’m just doing what I want, writing what I love and talking about my life.” This approach to song-writing reaffirms narratives of independence and individuality within her music, and we can’t wait to hear more of it in the near future.

Listen to Word Of Mouth below.

Follow BLAB on SpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: James Mannion

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Billie Flynn – ‘Hey Stranger’

I’ve taken a while to find the words for Billie Flynn’s debut EP Hey Stranger, a heartfelt meditation on grief. Each listen has highlighted something new and different, evoked more and more feelings; gorgeous, but increasingly hard to describe in words. It’s a thing of feeling. It feels like memories whispered on a cliff edge and the wind carrying parts of you away. It feels like the moments of stillness after the soil’s been turned. It’s incredibly honest and it  demonstrates Flynn’s infinite potential – her lyrics speaking truth to grief, while fitting comfortably into the cosy featherlight and luxuriously breathy cocoon of her voice box. 

The quality of production is consistently immersive – heady and cinematic, each song getting the best out of synths, pianos and Flynn’s unique tone. I’ve written about and adored previously released tracks already, but the latest ‘Forever Goodbye’ shows Billie’s artistry at a whole other level, it surpasses expectations. I held my breath as I listened. It’s about a loss which occurred during Billie’s teenage years and is utterly stunning in a very special, incisive and relatable way. Lyrics such as  “there’s a look in the eye of a friend when they mention your name, like they’re reminding me of pain, like I’d ever let it go” get to the core of what it is to live with loss in the presence of others. The trepidation, the repetition, the changing pace of the world outside as something privately sinks into your soul, and the never ending cycles. For an EP to so unambiguously be about the life changing power of loss without being in any way maudlin, is truly magical. 

There’s hope and transformation woven in  too. ‘The Good Girl’ beautifully explores the personal journeys our pain can inform as Flynn sings about shedding people-pleasing tendencies, pushing boundaries and growing into someone different. What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to reject expectations? What are those moments in life when we feel ourselves truly step into our own power? These are the questions ‘The Good Girl’ provokes. 

The emotional energy of Hey Stranger might not neatly blend with the sugar coated Christmas tunes we’re hearing blasted around us, but there’s no doubt that the moment for this EP is now. In a period where so much and so many are being grieved, this body of music is timely and refreshingly close to home.

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros

EP: Sophie Kilburn – ‘My Room Made Public’

Sophie Kilburn is a London based, Derbyshire born singer-songwriter who merges a classic rock vibe with a modern alt-pop twist. My Room Made Public is her debut EP, featuring four tracks with an emphasis on digging deep to ask how much of our lives we should share with the world. 

Self-empowerment is a theme that runs throughout. Each track scratches the surface on different aspects we share and how we deal with the challenges life throws at us. For example, stirring opener ‘Movements’, with its driving guitar and percussive synth with shades of later Fleetwood Mac (“you’re the wildstar on my fan poster”) reflects on the acceptance that a relationship is over, whilst ‘I’m In love With My Therapist‘ – with its slow rock beat, and soulful refrain of “gotta get out of here” – explores the claustrophobia of self-analysis, using classic ’80s pop-rock sounds.

Although ‘Ruthless’ is a slightly more uptempo dance-pop track (although the lyrics deal with being unsure of oneself), the collection ends on a more reflective note with ‘Under The Heat’ – an emotionally open exploration of the social pressures of misogyny: “Under the heat, since I was young… My voice is strong enough to speak on its own.” That is the message of this EP as a whole; finding your voice and your place in the world, and having fun while you do it. And what is particularly clever is how it uses an old school classic sound to reflect modern pressures in this social media age, all delivered through Sophie’s exquisite, powerful vocals and poignant, emotional lyricism. It is both relatable and catchy, so let it be your therapy.


My Room Made Public is out now. Listen here.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

Photo Credit: Percy Walker-Smith

EP: Porij – ‘Baby Face’

Balancing their love for pop & dance music alongside their social and emotional conscience, Manchester-based four piece Porij have created a bright, spirited collection of songs on their new EP, Baby Face. Whether they’re trying to rebuild the rattled confidence of women walking alone at night on buoyant opener ‘Nobody Scared’, or soothe the sting of a brief break-up on ‘Divine’, Porij do it with playful flair and infectious optimism via their dancing beats and quirky electronics.

Greatly influenced by the carefree time they spent studying, living together and playing to crowds who craved a mixture of genres in Manchester, Porij have leaned into their poppier tendencies on this latest offering. Whilst their debut EP Breakfast hinted at a love for the genre, on Baby Face they unabashedly embrace the joy that comes with writing a succinct pop song. “We’re all pop people,” vocalist & keyboardist Eggy explains. “A lot of bands are quite anti-pop, but I think the art of writing pop is ridiculous! Pop is hard to write.”

Finding method in their “mish-mash” of pop and dance, the bandmates have written four fun-sounding tracks fuelled by everything from lust to disgust. Penned after Eggy learned about the origins of the Reclaim the Night marches whilst watching a crime documentary on Netflix, ‘Nobody Scared’ is designed to empower listeners with its mantra-like chorus, lulling them into a state of security. There’s a healthy dose of self-love on ‘Divine’, with Eggy’s smooth vocals urging listeners to declare “Bitch, I’m divine” when they reach those “pearly gates.”

Guitarist Tommy’s lilting riffs on ‘Ego’ slide smoothly over drummer Tom’s buoyant percussion and James’ edgy basslines, but it’s the pure UK garage club vibes of ‘Can’t Stop’ that provides the real dancefloor-filling energy. They linger on and provide a remedy for the post-hook up blues. Lusty closer ‘Heaven Knows’ pleases with its direct lyrics, contrasting synth sounds and more of the band’s playful beats. It bookends their joyful dive into pop, patriarchy and finding pleasure in skipping through genre loop holes.

Light in all the right places, Porij’s new EP Baby Face provides a brief but lively distraction from everyday life.

Porij’s new EP Baby Face is set for release on 22nd September.

Follow Porij on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@kcbobcut