With their mix of post-hardcore and pop-punk, Long Island’s Envy On The Coast achieved scene success in the mid-noughties, splitting in 2010. Seven years on, vocalist Ryan Hunter and guitarist Brian Byrne return with EP ‘Ritual’, a varied release combining elements of rock, soul and electronica.
‘Manic State Park’ rallies against society’s destructive behaviour and superficiality. Vocal harmonies fail to soften the scornful refrain (“You look so good”) while a cacophony of drums and distorted guitars creates a turbulent atmosphere.
This disillusionment seeps into ‘Inhaler’, a frenetic track laced with references to drugs and dependency. Hunter’s vocals are caustic, delivering lines like “I liked you better, yeah, when you were on drugs” across overdriven guitars. Abrupt dynamics and a sudden electronic breakdown at the bridge intensify the chaotic feel.
The confident swagger and impassioned vocals find a slower groove on ‘Lioness’, suggesting a more mature sound. It’s difficult to avoid swaying along with the wah-wah of guitars or chugging rhythm section, or forget the chorus: “I don’t wanna make love, I wanna make a mess again.”
‘Virginia Girls’ is a brash love song for “the sound that never sleeps”. Vowing to burn bridges with those who move West, it celebrates tough New York life with layered harmonies: “We need the bitter just to make the sugar sweeter.” Fusing characteristics of hip-hop, rock and blues, it’s a soulful anthem reminiscent of X Ambassadors’ hit ‘Jungle’.
Penultimate track ‘How To Make A Man/Grenade’ is unsettling and energetic, embracing electronica before an explosive fade-out. In stark contrast, ‘Sift’ references the laid-back output of Hunter’s side-project 1ST VOWS. Expansive, otherworldly and employing synths throughout, it’s an unusual conclusion to the EP.
Envy On The Coast’s ‘Ritual’ is a return to form – with a twist. Although the duo retained their punk edge, they’ve introduced new diverse influences. With Hunter championing this “farewell” to their sound and “[moving] forward”, it remains to be seen which fans will stick around.
‘Ritual’ EP by Envy On The Coast is released on 30th June on Equal Vision Records.
Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)