If 2020 had a theme, isolation and despair could all be considered. Dublin-based indie rock band Starlings have encapsulated this in their debut EP ‘Out at Sea’. The EP’s artwork, displaying a night scene by the coast with the moon and a lighthouse in the background, inspires a feeling on loneliness as one sits in solitude staring out at the ocean.

However, the four-piece band have managed to catch these feelings throughout the EP, without it being depressing. Rather, catchy guitar riffs and melodic hooks propel these songs along to incorporate an appropriate amount of cheerfulness.

What’s most impressive about this debut EP is how the three songs are musically independent from each other, showcasing Starlings’ diverse sound. The opening track, Another Song has a West Coast indie feel to it, with mellow instrumentation and an upbeat guitar riff. The lyrics however create a different feeling of longing to escape from the anxieties of reality.

Lyrics such as, “I can’t take it, when all I see is heartache, sickness…” convey a wish to run from the real-life despair of today’s world. This is emphasised further by a punchy chorus, with the lyrics “Cos all night doesn’t last for that long, so stick around for another song” describing a desire to not take the goods things in life for granted. The tunefulness of the music contrasted with the feeling of anguish in the lyrics creates a wonderful bittersweet atmosphere on this track.

Following this, Insomniac is a moodier track and displays an understated groove rock quality, with a strong bass line that carries the song along. The final track, Ships is the highlight of the EP and has a much fuller sound, with an ambient synth and plucky guitar creating a layered texture to the music. Ships explores a longing to go back to a better time, with lyrics like “Reminisce on times when I could stay awake for days, I still do but things have changed.” However, this song is more uplifting and conveys a feeling of hope for the future and that the winds of change will bring brighter days. This is feeling is strengthened by how the song builds throughout to an explosive final chorus, followed by the peaceful sound of waves to finish out the track.

‘Out at Sea’ is a decent debut EP for Starlings; one that shows a promising up and coming band who are eager to explore the different sounds of the indie rock genre.