1. As Long As The World Spins
3. Nothing More
4. Ghost Town
5. The Minutes
7. Hurricane Sydney
10. But I Will Rise Again
11. State of Bias
12. My Wreckage
Locally formed band Esimorp’s debut album Roar Like The Ocean is a well written, mixed and performed release that includes several crowd favourites from previous live concerts, including one that we covered in 2018 (you can find it here). There’s a distinct 2000s feeling about the album. Vocals are front and centre with the words sung clearly, the guitar riffs are catchy, and the drums are straightforward and effective. The instrumental clarity and large reverb on the mixing alongside sentimental lyrics gave the whole album strong hints of Coldplay and U2, which makes sense as ESIMORP are known fans of Coldplay and Kings of Leon.
Roar Like The Ocean’s strongest suite is its atmosphere. With lots of echo and reverb, the album feels aptly just like the ocean – everything is wide, full, a bit blurry and endless. The writing of every song is like a single wave, they all start slow and quiet, quickly building up in musical texture as instruments and harmonies flood the listening space before dying down again to end the same way it began. I’m not sure if this is deliberate of just a style of their writing – considering many of the singles predate the album – but it certainly aids the flow of the album and something I really enjoyed.
There’s also a lot of silence in the album, not literal silence mind you, but in several tracks there are complemental musical and lyrical references to silence. In similar vein to well-known songs on the topic like the obvious Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ and less obvious ‘Quite’ from Matilda, the album’s fourth track Ghost Town perfectly balances high with low in a complex rhythms and instrumentation that brings out lyrics like ‘everything is quiet, no one knows where we belong’ building up with drums and guitars to ‘I can hear’. Staying on Ghost Town a little longer, it also includes references to symphonic pop such as occasional piano riffs which add to the whole idea of silence. This isn’t the only track that uses symphonic motifs, Airless is classical in its composition even if none of the instruments really are.
However, despite being a great easy listening album, what irks me is that Roar Like The Ocean doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, nor is it ‘raw’ in the stereotypical sense. At the same time though, every track is a guaranteed crowd pleaser if a little like each other. In fact, one could say every track seamlessly blends into the next – possibly a little too well. The exception to this is the symphonic elements which show up occasionally, but I wish had penetrated the album a bit more. Also, it’s a little disappointing to see that what is the debut album for what is essentially Hong Kong’s premier leading English band has no reference to the city at all musically, thematically or lyrically. In fact, before doing background research on them, I honestly thought Esimorp was an American band. It’s quite rare for a Hong Kong English band nowadays to have such complex mixing standards considering most other bands edge towards a ‘rawer’ aesthetic, so it’d be nice to see if Esimorp’s newer songs could get some inspiration from the more technologically experimental local scene.
Regardless of my above criticisms though, as a debut album Road Like the Ocean is incredibly strong, there are essentially no flaws in its execution only places for further improvement. I will be addicted to this relaxing, sentimental album for weeks to come – probably for meditative purposes but still.
Reviewed by Cyril Ma
Album available at Bandcamp and Apple Music.