[EP REVIEW] E^ST // Life Ain’t Always Roses

When it comes to 20 year-old pop phenomenon E^ST (Mel Bester), there’s a lot to be noted, especially within the past year. 2018 has proven massive for the singer-songwriter. Starting with a #63 placement in Triple J’s Hottest 100 with anthemic breakup track ‘Life Goes On’, leading into her beyond deserved signing to label Fueled By Ramen. Not only that, but there’s numerous laps around the country including her own headline shows and support slots for Amy Shark and Panic! at the Disco under her belt.

Now, as we travel into the fourth and final quarter of what has been a spectacular moment for E^ST, her latest effort Life Ain’t Always Roses looms ever closer and oh boy, does it shine just as bright amongst the rest of her triumphs for the year.

From the very first beat in opening track Alien’, it is clear how infectiously spooky the song is. Alien is a song for outsiders, and the opening line “I’m in the bus and it feels like a U.F.O.” sets the stage for this.

A melody for anyone who has ever felt awkward doing ‘normal’ things like taking the bus, E^ST has consistently shown how easily she can articulate an everyday struggle that many people wouldn’t have the words to describe. It’s this remarkable quality in her music and writing that E^ST will be known for as time rolls on.

Alien is otherworldly, and the electronic beats provide the atmosphere and tone add to the concepts that the track effortlessly pushes through.

E^ST’s talents and skills are perceptible to anyone, and it’s as clear as day as the EP progresses.

Described by Bester as ‘an ode to all the bad first dates we suffer through’, ‘I Don’t Lack Imagination’ is where the through and through concepts of the EP shine.  E^ST’s Life Ain’t Always Roses is a personal insight and exploration at transition from teenage to adult life.

“I’m better at wanting you, than knowing you // You should’ve stayed a fantasy” I Don’t Lack Imagination displays the song’s subject matter perfectly. Sometimes, it’s better not to ruin the illusion that we create in our heads. Backed by, arguably, the year’s boppiest and edgiest pop, Bester has masterfully crafted a harmonious blend between honest lyrics and infectious danceable music.

Having released three singles prior to the release of the EP, there’s still a lot to digest for new listeners. Conversely, for past followers of the pop phenomenon, there’s a few to recognize, since there’s been various tastings of the songs sprinkled through her recent live sets.

‘Heaven In My Mind’ and ‘Pure’ are amongst those to be new and unfamiliar territory. ‘Heaven In My Mind’ tells with it’s lyrics ‘In my dreams I find my paradise’, and ‘Pure’ is about the pesky people in our lives that don’t give as much as they take.

There’s also closing track ‘Ad Break Pastime’. Bester’s impressive vocals are really on display here. The song itself is temperately mellow, but it really highlights the depth and emotions behind her voice. Lyrically, the song is about being used by someone to pass their time; you giving your all to someone, and not receiving the same back. At it’s core ‘Ad Break Pastime’ is a sad song, yet I’m sure a lot of people will relate to it.

There’s a lot of diversity throughout ‘Life Ain’t Always Roses’; every track breathes a different breath, yet when placed together, there’s still a cohesive experience to hear. There’s brutally honest ‘Blowjob’, which was released earlier in the year, and hauntingly beautiful ‘Friends’, which is the true gem of the EP.

‘Friends’ is unbelievably sweet and inspiring. The song is a gorgeous love song, telling that it’s perfectly fine to not be okay – and that you can always rely on your close friends to help you. “Life ain’t always roses but // even when the road gets rough, you’ll never have to face too much alone”. This is the kind of song I’m so sure will resonate with fans old and new alike. Bester has a way of writing and articulating complex emotions into something so beautifully simple.

The most prominent thought that’s conjured throughout my experiences with Bester’s music is definitely the word ‘relatable’. I think that’s a true testament to the quality of work on display. ‘Life Ain’t Always Roses’ will become a universally relatable anthem for a lot of young adults.

There’s a lot to be said about the current music landscape in not only Sydney, but Australia as a whole. I think it’s fair to say that E^ST is at the forefront of it all right now.

Filled with awkward charm, endless bops and an emotional right hook, ‘Life Ain’t Always Roses’ is indubitably one of the better pop releases of the year.

Review – Kileab Thum

Life Ain’t Always Roses is out on Oct. 26th!

E^ST will be touring her EP across the EAST coast (get it?) and Perth throughout November!