Album Review: Parting Gift – Ensom (EP)
Many music listeners are always looking for something new. A young band that sounds different from everything in the typical format of song writing. A new sound combining elements of genres and meshing them into a totally unique experience. An album or EP that isn’t one song and then surrounded with Oscar Meyer levels of filler. Music lovers want to become excited about something they find.
The UK’s Parting Gift might have filled all those qualities just listed. Combing elements of post-hardcore and shoegaze, the style of Parting Gift is an interwoven mesh of styles that you can point out at almost any time. On paper it can still be a bit odd to define, but once you hear the music you understand almost instantly.
Ensom has a theme of anxieties and approaching fear, while being presented as a true form of art. Much of the writing by Zac Vernon is from a pessimistic viewpoint. In the press release for the EP, Vernon said:
“As you grow up you realize that the world isn’t always a happy place to live in. Speaking from personal experience, I have seen a lot of bad things happen. Going into Parting Gift, I was viewing everything in a really negative light. Even though things have changed now, I can still channel all of that negativity into the way I write. I could be in the best mood but I could still come up with the darkest lyrics. I just couldn’t write something happy now.”
Ensom starts off with “Pale” and the tone for the entire EP is set within these three and a half minutes. There is a split in style between an increasing speed through the rhythm and percussion, while the vocals are being sang somewhat calmly. The bridge at about two minutes in hits with a hint of shoegaze amidst the post-hardcore before going back to the chorus, all with a peaceful fade out at the end.
“3:07 (Moonlight)” is a shorter song, clocking in under three minutes. It’s calming and the guitars really add a great sound to the second half of the track. It’s a quick breath that relies more on the fade out and taking in the moment.
“Without Sin” follows at almost six minutes long and stands out as the centerpiece of Ensom. The vocals feel faded as an echo at moments and at no point does the song feel like it’s dragging or going through the motions. Lyrically, talking about death and losing the ones you love is haunting when heard with this music. It’s memorable and there is a lot to take in.
Following that is “Cold” which is similar to “3:07 (Moonlight)” in style. A quick track under three minutes relishing in the feedback and ethereal sound. Almost an entire minute is devoted to the gaze as you trail off while listening.
Ensom closes with its title track that brings in more of the post-hardcore and energy back after the break in “Cold”. Hearing the words “Nowhere to hide” and “Please let me go before I drown” feels almost like a cry for help and it works in this song. The drum hits come in strong and this is a solid way to end an EP. It makes everything you just heard feel big and important.
While the style of two full shoegaze rock songs sandwiching the long “Without Sin” somewhat bloats the overall package, the entire of the EP is still strong. It feels new and refreshing while offering a wildly different sound than what is heard in the typical rock scene today, while proving the radio format doesn’t have to be a standard for a band’s writing.
Writing out how Parting Gift sounds is difficult. Once you give it a chance through the song “Without Sin”, you understand almost instantly what the band is going for. There is a natural song writing ability matched with a unique sound. Combining different sub-genre elements while writing about fears has proven to be something these Brits know how to do well.
Here’s hoping we hear a full album sometime soon. Until then, Parting Ways and Ensom are worth supporting as a new dark horse breakout band with something special to get behind.