Self Titled Album Review: 'Ban Summers'
Ban Summers is the self titled, debut solo project, of former The Boy I Used to Be member Edward Perry.
This collection of tracks combines lo-fi production, with raw lyricism that touches on living with a chronic illness in modern day Britain.
Earlier this year ‘It’s On You’, a track charged by social critique, was released as Ban Summers’ first single.
Initially the track cleverly masks itself as a mellow, slacker rock, tune with a hopping drumbeat for an introduction.
But when you give the lyrics the attention they rightly deserve, there is a potent message at its core that highlights the blasé optimism of “You can get it if you really want it” when, in this modern society, that just “isn’t enough” for anyone not in a privileged position.
This melancholy tone dominates the narrative of the album, from the hollowness of lyrics “looking back, I was losing touch” explored in ’Lost’, to the aching profession “You can see it in my eyes I’m all gone” of, my personal favourite track, ‘I Wanna.’
It’s not a draining album by any means as it is still working through uplifting subject matter, such as in closing track ‘wanted n b luved’ which harnesses a hopefulness, that is still anchored in realism, in the mantra’s of it’s chorus: “day by day you take it as it comes, it’s the only way” and “no regrets, it’ll eat away at you.”
It’s a cathartic release delivered by vocals which, at times, adopt a soothing languid monotony but always hold a rich soulfulness and earnest expression.
Having been diagnosed with the chronic illness Fibromyalgia, Perry took to recording music in his flat with just his laptop, guitar and mic.
This DIY aspect has been preserved throughout the production, and it seems to create a gentle haze which emphasises the melancholic, and sometimes slightly claustrophobic, atmosphere.
Working with Brutalist Records, a DIY cassette label also based out of Portsmouth, on the LP feels like a fitting collaboration.
The cassette format, along with the accompanying zine, gives the whole album a more authentic homespun feel and the cover art (of what I assume to be Edward Perry’s home recording space) is the last personal puzzle piece to complete the journal like feel.
If you delve into Brutalist Records’ discography you’ll soon identify a penchant for grittier and more experimental sonic elements.
In this case it is most notable in the mechanical drums which appear throughout, from the introduction of the album opener to their perky underscore on ‘Sometimes’.
There is also a definite dream pop influence in the blended ethereal layers. Reminiscent of bands like Slowdive, you can take the hypnotic melody of ‘No Better’ with its gentle backing vocals and tangy guitar riffs as an example.
This creates a nice distinction with the more pronounced guitar laden, indie tune ‘On A Monday’, with its memorable chorus and contagious beat.
It must have taken perseverance on Perry’s part, finding new ways to showcase his writing and musicianship without compromising his health and well-being. And it is even more impressive to have released an album and to have performed it live. Even if the live shows have to be few and far between, the rarity will no doubt make them more highly anticipated.
It’s a wonderful live music revolution, one that can hopefully bring some inclusivity to artists in similar situations.
Regardless of the remarkable backstory, ‘Ban Summers’ is a stunning album built up of subtle, well mastered, layers and I urge you to listen, feel and share.