Es Fantasy EP

This is only the third release in seven years by ES from London, but in under an hour’s worth of music (to date), they’ve hit that sweet spot where a band establishes a singular and identifiable sound, but switches it up enough from record to record so things are retread-free. That sound, in short, stacks up spartan, rickety, vaguely creepy keyboards, doomsaying vocals, and a punchy post-punk rhythm section with no guitars in sight. It was a smash on 2016’s Object Relations and 2020’s Less of Everything, and so it is on the four-song Fantasy, but on the whole it’s a bit less goth and a bit more synth pop (“Too Late” especially), even if ES provides pretty screwed versions of both. The bass/drums-led “Swallowed Whole” runs at an almost anarcho-ish canter, too, which is what I mean about nice surprises each time.

Es Less of Everything LP

The only previous release by London’s ES, the Object Relations 12″ back in 2016, was a more-than-fine intro to their biz, but if it showcased the singularity of this quartet’s sound, I don’t think I appreciated that—not like I’m doing with Less of Everything, their debut album, anyway. Nine songs of slashingly dramatic post-punk with goth, Euro coldwave and Neue Deutsche Welle touches might have you expecting some gloomy plod—and heck, plodding gloomily ain’t illegal yet—but a consistent factor of this album is how energetic it is, bouncy even. ES’s lack of guitar plays a big part in this perception, the three musicians a unified force of rhythm while vocalist Maria Tedemalm talks in ominous tones of closing-in walls and slippery slopes, and if you’ve encountered the individual members in bands past and present (PRIMETIME, SCRAP BRAIN, PUBLIC SERVICE, to name only three) their collective tiger in the tank will come as no surprise. Way more original sounding than music made with these basic ingredients ought to be, and just a blast generally.