The Epstein: Murmurations

Zawinul Records
Released: End of May

Murmurations is the second album from Oxford based band, The Epstein.  Their music has been described as folkrock, which seems apt; clean, bluesy guitar riffs raise most of these songs to something that’s upbeat and foot-stomping, despite melancholy lyrics and undertones. ‘I Held You Once’ is the first single to be released from the album. The song has a summery warmth about it, belying the haunting and memorable lyrics: ‘I held you once, it was the longest night of my life’. It builds and builds to a Mumford and Sons-esque finale, making this a really strong track that’s definitely one of the most rousing on the album.

A heavier touch of the blues is delivered on tracks such as ‘Ring On Her Finger’, which blends trumpets to create an uplifting, sweeping texture of sound. Lead singer and songwriter Olly Wills has a pleasant and unextraordinary voice that doesn’t detract from the clean and beautiful musical arrangements of Murmurations. “We weren’t looking to catch the live performance, which is what we obsessed over in previous recordings. We wanted this to be the style of us in the studio with the time and thought that go into the process. We wanted this to be grand, wide-ranging, epic and cinematic in scope” (Epstein).

Whilst the lyrics are, for the most part, interesting and refreshing, ‘Another Band Has Gone’ gets off to a somewhat repetitive start: ‘Headed down to the city again tonight/Promise to pay my way, tonight/Wandered through those city streets down to Soho’. Despite the track holding its own well as a whole, this is a weak and uninteresting moment lyrically. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between in Murmurations, which brings together snippets of memories and stories in a captivating way. According to the band, “The album is about moving on, about people leaving, about different paths and about moments and how they shape the memories traced in these songs”.

The beginning of ‘Into Daylight’ is entirely reminiscent of sunrise; the track seems to stretch its arms with glacial murmurs that capture something like the magic of Sigur Rós – and that’s nothing if not a compliment. It stands testament to the fact that this is a wonderfully diverse album, and perhaps that’s the problem – it’s a struggle to pin down the The Epstein sound, so to speak. Each track is carefully intricate, and quite different. Regardless, this is an album I recommend you dive into, and I look forward to hearing more from these guys.

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