EP REVIEW: sea girls release indie pop triumph 'under exit lights,' their first EP since 2018
It's no secret how much I love Sea Girls. I started this blog simply because I had so much love for British music - Sea Girls included - and I wanted a place to write about it. They were my first FFO feature. There's a special place in my heart for them, and I'm honored to be reviewing their newest EP, Under Exit Lights.
First off, let me say: this EP is going to carry so well into festival season and beyond. These songs are pure sunshine, and there's not a single indie kid in the entire world who wouldn't mosh to them. Another important thing to note is that Sea Girls make music to grow up with. They're making music reminiscent of noughties indie and synth-y eighties music, so upbeat and friendly and fun. It's approachable and understandable, but most appealing of all that it's in a category entirely its own. One of the most special things about Sea Girls is that they're making such unique music, that they're carving out their own niche with everything they release.
The first track, "Ready For More," was released halfway through January, but the beautiful thing about hearing songs in the context of the bodies of work they were written to exist within is that you're finally able to fully comprehend what they're trying to say. "Ready For More" on its own was simply a fun, upbeat song, which reminded me of "Last Nite" by The Strokes, but hearing it with the rest of the songs on Under Exit Lights means I finally understand that this song, as the first on the record, is taking on the responsibility to set the tone and frame the scene for the EP. The same goes for "Violet" and "Closer"; on their own, they were just catchy love songs, but within the larger frame they play a part in a love story.
"Why Won't You Admit" is the furthest I think Sea Girls have pushed their "style" on the EP, and one of the best songs they've released thus far. It goes to show that Sea Girls can make incredible music by both sticking to what they've proven themselves to be good at and by stretching their personal boundaries.
Under Exit Lights is banger after banger until you're hit, almost unexpectedly, with "Timeless," my favorite new track of theirs. It proves that they have range. They kill every upbeat song they put out, but they can also release an immensely impressive slow jam. "Timeless" is a full, enchanting acoustic song about being taken off-guard by cliche, all-encompassing love, about the world insisting you're too young to understand what love even is, but knowing for sure you've found it. It's also about thinking you have all the time in the world - for love, for adventure, for passion - but never being able to find it. It's somehow both sad and reassuring at the same time.
After the sobering but beautiful "Timeless," we're met with "Soldier On," a synth-brazen song about hope and love when it feels like there isn't any. "Hold onto the ache inside your heart," Henry sings, urging anyone and everyone he's singing to to keep going, even when it feels like you can't. It's a beautiful song about desperation and discouragement - in love, in life, in work. You can't live your life in fear when it can be taken from you at any moment, and this song is urgently trying to convince us of that.
A beautiful follow-up to 2017's Call Me Out and 2018's Heavenly War, Under Exit Lights further proves Sea Girls' worth as a band and as indie giants. With every passing year they've grown - their releases streamed more, their singles spun on the radio, and more shows being sold out - and I don't see their trajectory capping anytime soon. They're a band able to pack a punch and to package it in a song that's Radio 1-worthy.
Sea Girls can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and their website. Their well-known for their energetic live sets, so you won't want to miss them out on tour this spring - although all of their UK shows have sold out, you might be able to get one secondhand, so be on the lookout! They'll also be playing at Neighbourhood Weekender in May, Reading and Leeds in August, and a ton of European festivals in the meantime. This is the year of Sea Girls - don't slack!