in earnest review: hauntingly beautiful EP + film

Quietly heartbreaking

in earnest have excelled themselves with reasons to stay alive, an accomplished, powerful EP and stunning short film.

The ‘UK sad indie noise’ band explained that Matt Haig’s book “inspired us to talk so openly about mental illness. We wrote these songs to document our personal highs and lows.”

in earnest 'reasons to stay alive' logo - blue silhouette of the band in front of an electricity pylon
tw/s*

reasons to stay alive starts with the haunting line “I really believe I should have died last year.” The music and the impact of the statement reverberate. Sarah sings of all the love and wonder that she would have missed if that tragedy had come to pass.

in earnest’s EP is a gapless six-track record: “[it] is cyclical to reflect how most of us have felt stuck in an endless loop.” The film segues to an arresting scene of the trio seemingly digging their own graves. They’re engulfed by determination and anguish. The spell is broken when they each find a photo of something they love and they run home in the rain.

We’re transported from the photo of a tree to the garden where the majestic tree stands. As a mellow instrumental tune plays, we explore the house and its ephemera of family life. The band make a brief appearance to dry themselves off, laughing.

in earnest are from Southend-on-Sea, so the coast was bound to make an appearance. Videographer Rob Humm‘s (Soundcastle) drone and long shots are stunning. They’re a perfect accompaniment to the contemplative piece. They stroll along the beach when the tide is out, as Sarah sings softly about the impulsiveness of humans. She’s baffled and beaten by the ecological disasters we’ve caused.

The next track is quietly heartbreaking. A band member implores another, his lover, to stay:

this is a far cry from giving up
waving the white flag when things get rough
we’ll learn to grow old…

keep your tether by your side
there are reasons to stay alive.

For the final track, in earnest explore deserted play parks, streets, and fairgrounds. They each look dazed and lost in thought. Sarah sings “I’m taking my pills/doing my time/pour my heart out in a song/the only thing I know is I don’t think I can go on.” It’s hard to hear but the visuals help; even when they feel alone, they’re alone together. After a pause, the scene explodes into a riot of sound and colour. Then release, ready for the looping EP and video to start anew.

reasons to stay alive was filmed on a shoestring budget, but it certainly doesn’t look like it. It’s well worth 22 minutes of your time – maybe more than once.

If this has whetted your attitude for music films then check out Doc ‘N’ Roll festival, a hybrid in cinema and online music documentary festival.

Are you struggling? In the UK and Ireland, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]
If you need to chat by text for mental health support, text SHOUT to 85258
Other international helplines a
re listed at www.befrienders.org.