Ekkstacy is back with a burst of melt-in-your-mouth nihilism. Following on from his poignant 2022 debut, the 21-year-old indie rocker has once again captured a sense of velvety-smooth vulnerability in sonic form, melding hazy post-punk introspection, woozy surf-rock riffs, and a bite of pessimistic SoundCloud rap, Ekkstacy’s self-titled sophomore softens the pains of an arduous, ever-confusing world.
The opener ‘I Don’t Have One Of Those’ effortlessly sets the record’s tone. As the track unravels, a weightless dreamscape of a gorgeous post-punk, Ekkstacy’s doubtful vocals slowly float into the foreground – all the while, his lyrics suggest otherwise. “I don’t care!” he will often yell, yet the goth-tinged twang, the echoing of post-punk tracks ‘I Guess We Made It This Far’ or ‘Shutting Me Out’, paint a different picture, the sonic equivalent of pastel melancholia with their a misty, hypnotic ache.
Clashing soft sonic textures with painful misery serves as the record’s catalyst. Under the veil of floating instrumentals and dull, feigned apathy, Ekkstacy is able to unpack complex emotions within a safe bubble of reverbed guitars and new-wave vibrations. Oftentimes, the instrumentals are able to convey Ekkstacy’s emotions more fluidly than his words are able to. From ‘Get Me Out’s building wall of sound to ‘The Headless Horseman’ swelling, Deftones-tinged instrumentals, Ekkstacy calmly analyses his pain as the instrumentals expose the true depths of his feelings.
Despite the sonic palette softening certain topics, Ekkstacy still manages to feel sharp. In each moment of vulnerability and feigned apathy, it’s evident that there is a deep level of emotion stitched into every second of this record. The pensive SoundCloud rapper drawl takes the sting out of taboo topics – ‘Fuck’ casually dropping in lines like “killing myself to make a scene” are just thrown in, the blasé reflection on suicidal embodying the record’s calm sense of nihilism while also reflecting the declining mental health of the next generation, navigating the bleak realities of contemporary society.
While the record thrives in those moments of swelling misery, the more brash pockets of punk are a great way to balance out the record. ‘Luv Of My Life’ is a stand-out, glimmering with a sense of scrappy limerence, the track’s bright punch heightened by its surf-tinged riffs. ‘Fuck’ is an equally as charming, surf-drunk tune, a bratty ramble of youthful, sun-drenched apathy.
Overall, Ekkstacy is a commendable patchwork of post-punk pessimism. There’s pain, but the accomplished, glistening punk sheen strives to keep it at bay – but it also serves as a great soundtrack for reflective musing if you so wish. While tracks may at times blur into one, that’s almost part of the charm – it’s a goth-tinted, reverb-heavy bubble of liminal noise desperate to lure you in for a dose of introspection.