Even before hard life released their debut album, life’s a beach, in May 2021, leader Murray Matravers was writing songs that would become the core of this follow-up. When the UK’s lockdowns paused the five-piece’s operations, Matravers found rare opportunities to take stock. “When you leave school, you’re like, ‘Go, go, go, go, go!’” he tells Apple Music. “A thousand miles an hour. I don’t really think you’ve dealt with any of the shit in your childhood because you’ve just been trying to get through it. All of a sudden, I had this decompression where I looked back at everything that had happened, and I wrote this album about it. It’s a lot about growing up, and I don’t think anyone feels really at ease and happy with the way they grew up, so it’s no wonder it feels rawer.” That rawness manifests itself not just in the honesty of Matravers’ lyrics, but also in a sonic saturation and distortion. As the group patches intriguing new sounds together from influences as divergent as Randy Newman, ’90s hip-hop, indie rock, New Orleans funeral marches, and The Beach Boys, there’s often a static and tension that taps into the turbulence of life. That’s not to say MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE... is a dark record: Matravers’ reflections generate plenty of optimism and arm-around-the-shoulder empathy for anyone struggling, and the music often frames his meditations within invigorating beats and uplifting pop melodies. Nevertheless, Matravers is well-aware that he’s revealing more of himself than ever. “I feel vulnerable a few times on this album,” he says. “But you can be empowered. We’re all vulnerable, and if you allow that, if you champion it rather than shy away from it, it can feel good.” Here, he takes us through his journey, track by track. “MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE…” “The first song we wrote for the album was ‘DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY,’ and it had this chorus, ‘Maybe in another life.’ That felt like exactly where I was. So, I had Sam [Hewitt, bassist], who is the resident musical genius, make these weird jingles. This was the first. It helps you step into the world, and you’re like, ‘OK, this is a fairy tale,’ the sonics of it are kind of cute and cozy, and it has glockenspiel and nice harmony. We produced seven or eight jingles, but the rest of the band were like, ‘Dude, this is too much. There’s more jingle than song.’ So, only two of them made it—this and one at the end of ‘ANTIFREEZE.’” “GROWING PAINS” “I wrote this, and a lot of the album, with my friends Gianluca and Alessandro Buccellati. I wrote ‘have a great day’ on the first album with them, and we became really close. This is set within a relationship. It’s quite easy in songwriting to put things in a romantic context because they’re more easily digestible. The relationship I have with my girlfriend’s pretty much the only functioning one; the rest of them are all fucked. So, bless her—she bears a lot of the songwriting. I was actually writing about the state of the band and where we are. Growing up and wondering, ‘How did I get here? Is this where I wanted to be?’” “BASEMENT” “It’s literally about going out to a nightclub called The Basement [in Leicester] and getting fucked up. There is a darker edge to it where it’s like, ‘I feel the wheels coming off.’ It’s like you haven’t really got your shit together, and you’re going out and partying to remedy or forget about that. It’s a big part of British culture: We don’t talk about how we feel. Instead, we get pissed and then it spills out in these drunken slurs that you are forgiven for, and you can blame on being intoxicated. Heaven forbid you actually have to say those things for real.” “DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY” “I wrote this about being infatuated with a teacher, which is something that all of us go through. I’ve been saying this in front of audiences, and there’s always this weird or awkward silence. I’m like, ‘Come on. Is that not a thing?’ You’re an adolescent teenager full of hormones, you do have these weird fantasies with your teachers. She’s a fictional character; there’s not an 80-year-old geography teacher thinking, ‘What the fuck? This is really creepy.’ It’s about unrequited love in general. It feels wistful and like a fairy tale. It feels very, very old-school Disney. I was watching a lot of old Disney and listening to loads of old Randy Newman when I was making this album.” “BUBBLE WRAP” “Releasing the first album was a bit of a whirlwind. I’d just come out of that and was moving house and didn’t give myself time to reflect on anything. I didn’t really know where I was. And it was COVID, so a lot of stuff was going wrong. I got this studio in London, but it was completely empty. I ended up in there, getting really drunk on my own—for all those reasons I talked about with ‘BASEMENT’—and wrote ‘BUBBLE WRAP.’ The recording is so bad—I used all the wrong mics, and all the vocals were so out of tune and distorted because I’d accidentally driven the pre-amps too hard. Or maybe it was a conscious decision. But there’s a lot of raw emotion in this song. We’d just done a Justin Bieber cover for a Radio 1 Live Lounge and got it all wrong. Honestly, it was terrible. Sam left me a voicemail [checking in on Matravers] that weekend, and I stuck it in this because it encapsulated the whole message of the song.” “OTT” “We’ve spent our whole career trying not to be put in the ‘indie’ bracket just because we’re British dudes that play guitars. On this, we’re like, ‘You know what? This is our indie anthem.’ [The band]’s about experimenting and enjoying it. It has my first-ever guitar solo at the end. I made this shitty solo in my bedroom, in my pants. It’s, like, three notes. When I play it live, I feel so embarrassed, like, ‘Oh my god, as if I’ve got to play this solo for the rest of my life.’ ‘OTT’ is uplifting and feels good, but it’s actually about addiction. We all encounter addiction in our lives, and it’s the saddest illness I’ve ever come across. It’s one where it’s too raw to put it down in its entirety. So, we just try and make people smile while doing so.” “MEMORY LOSS” “This is the rawest one. When you go through your life, especially your early twenties, trying to get somewhere and achieve some shit, you never actually look back and deal with the stuff that’s affected or defined you. This was my time to reflect on that. It’s me recounting a few things that had happened, but I can’t remember anything. I have the worst memory. It’s really annoying, and I wanted to write a song about it. I did a lot of reading into how trauma victims can’t remember anything because it’s a defense mechanism. I was trying to think, ‘Right, so what is it that I’m scared of remembering?’” “SILVER LININGS” “I felt like we needed some light relief from the heaviness. I wrote this in New York with Rob [Milton], who produced a lot of life’s a beach. This is inspired by ’90s hip-hop, the sound selection, the drums, the flow, everything. That’s the shit I grew up on. It’s literally about having a really nice time in New York, and everything’s going to be great. It has that half-glass-full energy. Despite all the misery and nostalgia of this album, there’s a lot of hope in there, and we are positive people.” “CROCODILE TEARS” “This was written drunkenly with some friends of mine, [producers] Bekon & The Donuts. They did a couple of tracks on Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. We basically used to nail absinthe. And because they’re on hip-hop time, the sessions would start at 8 in the evening and go on until 4 in the morning—and I was already jet-lagged because we were in LA. We just ended up getting hammered and messing around. Bekon’s a huge Beach Boys fan. So, we nerded out about how they recorded. We placed a mic in the middle of the room and recorded different harmonies from different proximities and positions. It’s inspired by New Orleans funeral marches as well. It has the ‘maybe in another life’ in the lyric again. It’s just about what could have been.” “MORAL SUPPORT” I wrote this with Luca and Sandro in LA. It’s a conventional love song. I spent so much time away from home over the last few years. I miss my family and my girlfriend. I miss being in one place. ‘MORAL SUPPORT’ is me saying, ‘I miss you and thanks for having my back.’ It has those sort of bossa nova, samba chords. Very, very Bee Gees. Even the first three chords are—different key and slightly different inversion—the same three chords from ‘How Deep Is Your Love.’ It just wrote itself, and I’m now bonded to Luca and Sandro, in a way, for eternity because we shared this moment together. It’s almost like having sex with someone, like, ‘Wow, we did this thing, and it can never be undone.’” “CALLING IN SICK” “This one was just for us. I was very inspired by Randy Newman. ‘Short People,’ one of his hits, has this piano thing where it’s like, ding, ding, ding. I was like, ‘I’m having that because that’s such a fucking vibe.’ We just wanted to jam. I think people are going to skip this, but if you’re a true fan, listen to this because this is what gets us really excited. It has this key change into a minute-long instrumental horn outro, which is the most self-indulgent moment on the album. We started as muso nerds, so it’s nice to embrace that from time to time.” “BEESWAX” “Coming out of lockdown, everyone was a little bit, ‘Whoa!’ Stepping out into the world, it’s a lot: ‘I’m having to share a lot of stuff with people, and I’m not used to this.’ ‘BEESWAX’ is a reaction to that. The lyrics are quite arrogant and cocky. I become a lot more confident. You hear the real me on ‘MEMORY LOSS’ and ‘MORAL SUPPORT.’ I’m insecure and scared and humble and sweet, and that can get a bit boring. So, I was like, ‘You need to turn up and go crazy.’ So, I used the vocal processing to be able to become like this rapper for a minute.” “BUGGIN” “Luca threw this house party, and we were all getting stoned and drunk and whatever, and this really coke-y and weird dude turned up. He was really tall, and I’m really short, so that already was an issue. And he was dressed in this kind of traditional African dress, a play on that. He was telling us he was a wanted man who’d escaped his country, that he was the prince of this place, and his face was on all the money there. I had to run away from him because he was following me around. The next day, we wrote ‘BUGGIN’ about him, an unwelcome guest just bugging you out. We finished the song and went for food, and the same guy was at the restaurant. We were all hiding our faces, pulling our hats down over our eyes. It was super weird.” “ANTIFREEZE” “Gus [Dapperton] and I have been friends since we supported him on his UK tour in 2017. We were just chatting one day and decided to write a song over FaceTime. I was in England, and it was fucking freezing because it was January. He was in New York, and it was freezing there. So, we just started writing about how cold it was. Wrote it in a day, super simple.” “FORTUNE COOKIE” “This really is my ode to Randy Newman. It was written about someone in the band who was going through a really hard time. I sent it to him, and I remember him calling me back in tears. We had a real heart-to-heart. There’s certain things you can say in a song that you can’t really say to your mate in the pub. And music has a funny way of saying a thousand things with just one line. This song really helped us open up the floor, to actually have this conversation as a band. It had to be the last one because it ends on ‘take care.’ Our first album ends on ‘goodnight.’ We’re just trying to make a theme of saying goodbye at the end of each project.”

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