London singer and producer Esther Joy self-released her eponymously titled debut back in 2015 and since then she has been busy collaborating and touring with Charlie XCX. Now she’s back with an ambitious new EP titled The Acid Caves Vol 1. Its three songs feature a non-human alien immigrant called Silipur heading Earthwards to feed on all the emotional energy (called ‘The Chaos’) that we Earth dwellers pump out into the atmosphere. Esther explains: “Over the last millennium, all lifebloods (non-humans) developed the ability to physically see and manipulate this energy, leading to huge advancements in better mental health and supernatural power”.
If this sounds a bit like the rambling theology of a new-age cult or, worse still, the concept behind some overlong seventies prog-rock monstrosity, worry not. The Acid Caves actually weighs in at a lean ten minutes and is as tasty a slice of melody-driven electropop as you are ever likely to encounter. The concept, which I have to admit on paper did nothing for me, translates amazingly well to song form, and the lyrics are evocative, succinct, and accessible.
Track one, Silipur Leaves Home, begins with some atmospheric ambience before some subdued post-dubstep beats kick in. Esther’s vocals are pitched just right and have an airy feel that fit the sci-fi theme perfectly. The synths and sub-bass on the instrumental sections are impactful and the outro riff is really gnarly and cutting. This song really packs a lot into its three-minute running time.
The second track, Landing, is a similarly upbeat affair with a vocal hook that has hit written all over it and despite its expletive-laden break down has an unashamedly pop vibe. The final song, What He Found, is altogether more reflective and emotional. Here we get a full measure Esther Joy as a vocalist, with a beautiful vocoder tinged performance. It’s a great end to an EP that I expected to be a little bit new-age and hippy-dippy but that won me round with the unrelenting quality of its songwriting and the strength of its production and vocal performance. Bring on Volume 2.