If Es’ debut album for Upset the Rhythm explored the “tension between intent and interpretation”, the London group’s 2023 EP, ‘Fantasy’, constructs a coda for resistance against the distorted gaze. A four-track contact-high anxiety amid fact and facsimile, the new release attempts to define a sound that still resonates in an increasingly confused public theatre, where cerebral dreams manifest in corrupt fascination.
Echoing the legendary Pylon or the later, disco-inspired releases from PIL, tracks like ‘Emergency’ and ‘Unreal’ blend the band’s established disjunctive style of gothic restlessness with brighter, poppy, and danceable tones. These stylistically unwind in transition with the increasingly claustrophobic pieces like ‘Too Late’ and ‘Swallowed Whole’, syncopating a parallel design of the frantic and the fashionable.
Paired with a lyrical intricacy which emits a desire to break the fetish of false representation, ‘Fantasy’ reminds us that worthy punk records, like any manifesto of neurotic suspicion, balance testimonial, speculative-fiction, and social critique. Indebted to the past but pointed sharply to the future, Es deconstruct our modern wreckage of personhood and self-deceit, granting a sense of solidarity inside alienation. Inside ‘Fantasy’ we visualize our own estrangement, and it is only when this mirror fades that we find the tools to fight back.
Will Deacon, 2023.