Sultry, sugary pop
Faith Martin
13:38 7th June 2022

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George Ezra is the golden retriever of the pop world. Soft, sweet and immeasurably gentleman-like, hits such as 'Budapest' and 'Shotgun' have made him a household name. Gold Rush Kid is his beaming and introspective new album, but is it too predictable?

'Anyone For You' is our first taste of the Gold Rush Kid era: its repetitive chorus, timeless pop hooks, and joyful persona have already made it a commercial success with critics and fans alike. As an opener, its floral, festival atmosphere showcase Ezra’s real understanding and respect for great pop music, creating something that doesn’t feel cheesy but rather ‘cool’ to listen to. Similarly, 'Green Green Grass' uses the same format — although the lyrics generally feel more well-rounded. Sonically, the use of electronic beats reiterate how much George Ezra has found his sound, whilst ensuring the release of endorphins throughout. Good or bad, it seems we are a far cry from Wanted on Voyage, but on course to crash headfirst into Staying At Tamara's.

Although infectious, so far all the tracks use the same formula: catchy, repetitive and easy to listen to. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to note that the lyrics don’t feel particularly important or assertive. I fear many of these songs will just be lost in the background. 

Here’s where the formula starts to change and becomes more about self-awareness than just a commercial pop pleaser: title track 'Gold Rush Kid' has a decadent chorus that encourages the release of inhibitions. The tune is easily accessible to any age, using simple beats and light drumming. However, If you’re willing to pay attention, you’ll see how the track is much more centred around feelings...but at the same time, who can resist a little dance to an irresistible chorus so packed with light-hearted fun?

'Don’t Give Up' is more about storytelling, the growth and repair of a relationship between both a partner and yourself. Vocally, it has a more hopeful and emotional tone, and although George has a deeper more present voice he’s still able to create these slightly more hush moments that almost feel like whispering, allowing the listener to feel more connected as he avoids being drowned out by a huge curated pop melody. 

Comparably, the third single from the album 'I Went Hunting' is a soothingly sombre self-examination of mental health and obsessive thoughts. The line “Imagine havin' a thought and then thinkin' it again, Thinkin' it again, Thinkin' it again, Thinkin' it again, Thinkin' it again” details the struggle with rumination and serves as an example of what George and so many others experience.

It’s safe to say the second half of the record is much less about creating anthemic pop tracks, and more about honesty and connection, something I’m grateful Ezra still knows how to balance. 'Sweetest Human Being Alive' follows Ezra’s imagination of finally finding ‘the one’. A love letter foreshadowing a life together, it radiates warmth and seems that storytelling is the pop stars greatest strength. 

The Gold Rush Kid era ends with a whimsical pop ballad in the form of 'The Sun Went Down', a fitting closer for an album with so much soul and openness. The main take away from Gold Rush Kid is perhaps that Ezra is much more a musician than many would like to believe. On the surface, you may see a run-of-the-mill pop singer whose sound hasn’t evolved much, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a man trying to make sense of the world with his heart on his sleeve. It’s easy to stick to the anthemic tracks like 'Anyone For You', but the real gold rush comes when it becomes personal and intimate.  

Gold Rush Kid arrives 10 June via Columbia Records.

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Photo: Press