[in earnest – ‘reasons to stay alive’ EP cover]
By Sandy Power
Essex trio in earnest have been making waves this past year with their deeply personal and moving songs, which have covered themes of mental health, their lives and even their dogs. Their latest EP, ‘reasons to stay alive’, is now supplemented by a short film of the same name. The film, which is accompanied by the music of the EP, sees the band traverse the surrounds of their hometown Southend, responding to the emotions of each track. Filmed over six days, the film took three months to plan and, despite being made on a shoestring budget, looks extremely professional.
The EP consists of six new tracks, and the action of the film follows their narrative. The film is intended as a cyclical piece of art, which begins and ends with the trio lying on a grassy bank looking out onto the seafront in Southend. There are recurrent themes throughout, most noticeably the use of vocalist and keyboard player Sarah’s mirror, which signifies her keeping a check on her mental state. Some parts of the video show highs, whereas there are others which depict lows, noticeably the juxtaposition of a melancholy Sarah stood in front of a group of bricks painted black, with band mates Toby and Tom looking cheery and engaged with each other.
The cinematography in ‘reasons to stay alive’ is grand, accentuated by a widescreen aspect ratio, use of slow motion and cut-away shots which reflect the narrative of the wider film, whilst breaking up the action. Drone footage is also used to show the band in large expanses, adding further variety to the visual palette, as well as highlighting the beauty of the local scenery.
The music also adds to the energy of the film, with tremolo strings being used to build tension early on, a folk based instrumental adding a warm homeliness to shots inside a band members house and a great crescendo towards the end that accompanies explosive musical performance and powder paint footage.
The film balances the light-hearted and sombre through the imagery used. The digging of holes in which picture frames are found, followed by the band running with them, perhaps resembling memories that run through their collective minds, echoing the emotions of a distant yet tangible past. On the other hand, we see the band enjoying an ice cream later on, with guitarist/vocalist Tom getting a healthy dollop on his nose.
The lyrics also play a part in telling the in earnest story, which has always been a key aspect of their music. Sarah sings about environmental issues as the film progresses, followed by Tom’s more personal depiction of his partner’s motherhood to his dogs, the animals which hold such a dear place in the band’s hearts.
The instrumentation and orchestration of the music achieve a depth and atmosphere that the band have been developing over their three major releases, topping even the emotive strings and organ of sounds of their self-titled debut. The textures, timbre and rhythms take us on a rollercoaster journey that matches their lives and experiences, and the footage chosen to match these is equally diverse and majestic.
The work put together by in earnest and their team, including videographer friend Rob Humm, surpasses their already impressive canon and can’t be spoken of highly enough.
in earnest online: