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Easy Life frontman Murray Matravers on their new album 'Maybe In Another Life'

(SOUNDBITE OF EASY LIFE SONG, "GROWING PAINS")

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Life's A Beach." That was the title of indie pop band Easy Life's debut album, which was released last year. Now they're back with a new album, "Maybe In Another Life..."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GROWING PAINS")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) Growing pains, growing pains.

RASCOE: Easy Life hails from England, and its sophomore album is wistful, catchy and in some ways a departure from the band's typically sunny vibe and offers a melancholy meditation on popular culture today. Murray Matravers is the lead singer of the group and joins us now from Preston in north England. Welcome.

MURRAY MATRAVERS: Hello. Ayesha, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Oh, thank you. I'm so glad to talk to you. Like, the album title is "Maybe In Another Life..." Like, in another life - that's a phrase people usually use when they're trying to say they wish something about their lives were different. Like, what were you hoping for with that title?

MATRAVERS: This album was, like - I did, like, a real deep dive into, you know, my own personal life and a lot of things that I in the past have just tried to forget about or just things that I couldn't deal with at the time. And now I'm slightly older and had a little bit more time to reflect, I started to confront them. And the whole album just deals with the idea of possibility and regret, really.

RASCOE: Are there any decisions that you feel like you regret?

MATRAVERS: Of course. Oh, my God, there's so many. I address, like - it's interesting because as a writer, I've always been very explicit about what it is I'm talking about. You know, I talk about objects and situations very candidly. On this album, it was a little bit more existential, a little bit more meta. And I didn't exactly say this is the exact situation that I'm talking about, and I'm going to make that very obvious. But it's an album about growing up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) Oh, dear Miss Holloway, you're still on my mind. I reminisce about us sometimes. You started...

RASCOE: You sing a lot about romantic relationships on this album. That's where a lot of times, people have a lot of regrets. And this really comes across in your song "Dear Miss Holloway." Is there a literal Miss Holloway or no?

MATRAVERS: That's so creepy, so no.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

MATRAVERS: She's a make-believe character of my imagination based on the idea of falling in love with your teacher and unattainable romance. And we've all been there, you know? I think it's just something that happens when you're, like, an adolescent teenager. You know, you're kind of discovering all these crazy feelings for the first time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) 'Cause we're forever near-misses, dodged a couple of kisses. You were never my missus, but we came kind of close. I've had plenty of fishes...

MATRAVERS: You know, at its core, it was just quite a funny thing to write about. But that's not to say that the song's, like, a complete joke, because I think it deals with the idea of, like, unrequited love in any situation.

EASY LIFE: Yeah.

MATRAVERS: I set it in, like, a high school scenario, but I think in general, the song is actually quite melancholy.

RASCOE: Obviously, you don't want to date your teacher. Let's put that out there. Don't date your teacher. But, like, in places where it's someone who you actually could be with, do you think that this album is more about accepting fate or taking more ownership of your action and going after it?

MATRAVERS: I think it's all about growth and, like, trying to work on myself as a human being and become a better person and, like, move with dignity and grace and all those things. And that can be really hard, you know, in a modern world. Like, it's very easy to upset people.

RASCOE: In another song called "OTT," we encounter something - it seems like a happy scene, but there's a deeper struggle playing out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OTT")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) You're way too OTT. Wish you'd go slowly. I think you've had quite enough. Time to get back on the bus.

RASCOE: OTT, over the top, right? That's what it means? And so it's the theme of excess.

MATRAVERS: It comes from actually just being witness to a lot of really devastating, like, addiction problems and - not that I'm suffering from myself, but lots of close friends and things like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OTT")

BENEE: (Singing) Been smoking far too much...

MATRAVERS: It's devastating, you know? And I see it all the time. And all these people - they have stories and reasons why they got to those situations. And it's just - Easy Life has always taken serious subject matters like that and framed them in a way that feels optimistic or feels kind of - dare I even say joyful. That's what I find really interesting about pop music in general because most songs, lots of the uplifting songs - if you just read the lyrics, they're actually just...

RASCOE: They have sadness in them.

MATRAVERS: Yeah.

RASCOE: Yeah, yeah.

MATRAVERS: It has a strange boundary where it sort of belongs in both a happy and a sad world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEESWAX")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Maybe, maybe...

RASCOE: You know, when you're looking at this sound, there's kind of, like, a '90s vibe, some - you know, some harmonizations that kind of sound like a little bit of doo-wop. It's almost like you hear a little Drake. You hear a little - you know, little hip-hop, little this or that. Like, how do you feel about it?

MATRAVERS: Finding the sonic palette of an album is, like, my favorite part of making a record. That for me is just, like - just the best thing. And, like, I've produced, like, a lot of this album myself. And we've always used, like, sample drums and loads of synths, and that's kind of been our thing. And I just wanted to make a slight departure from that and start to use, like, actual acoustic instruments. I took the - those organic recordings and just smashed them, like, distorted them, saturated them, like, beyond recognition from what they started.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEESWAX")

EASY LIFE: (Rapping) Then you see me go hard, like I'm like King Kong. Ooh, the boy can't go wrong. Not a hair out of place, not a foot out of line, I keep it up all night long. We're blowing up your radar, charging up your pacemaker. Buy it now and pay later, keep you earning that paper. (Singing) You should keep your distance...

RASCOE: I was struck by your song "Moral Support," which has these explicit words of affirmation. Like, where do you find moral support, like, in your world today?

MATRAVERS: I mean, I'm so glad we're talking about this song because this was - you know, I think this is probably my favorite song on the album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MORAL SUPPORT")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) I got your love. I got your moral support.

MATRAVERS: Yeah, the chords are, like, a salsa kind of bossa nova type thing. Being - I was in LA. I was away from home for a long time. That was a really - to be honest with you and as lame as it sounds, that's kind of like a love song to my girlfriend, who was back at home, who I was missing at the time. And - but I get a lot of support from her. I have, you know, also a lot of great friends and, like, amazing family, so I think I was just kind of shouting out everyone that got me to this place.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MORAL SUPPORT")

EASY LIFE: (Singing) So when the sun is shining down upon your face, don't feel out of place. That's where you belong.

RASCOE: Murray Matravers, frontman of the English band Easy Life, thank you so much for joining us.

MATRAVERS: Good to talk to you, man.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MORAL SUPPORT")

EASY LIFE: ...Into cyberspace. I hope you won't be long. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.