Having long been celebrated as one of the most prolific young artists around, there is no doubt that Ethan P. Flynn’s debut album was a long time coming.
After a prestigious few years of producing and collaborating with the likes of FKA twigs [on her MAGDALENE LP] and David Byrne [on American Utopia], Ethan P. Flynn has built a reputation for innovation and a refreshing new touch. Turning focus to his debut LP Abandon All Hope saw that unique sensibility emerge tenfold.
From the very first notes of ‘In Silence’, the album proves itself to be expansive; sprawling languorously ahead in a space filled with yearning and reminiscence. It immediately overflows with unbridled emotion, and yet it manages to transcend that, becoming its own entity beyond those raw responses.
‘In Silence’ is a gut-wrenchingly cut-open beginning, and there are similarly anguished moments throughout. Yet, Flynn’s penchant for classic, old-school songwriting and an ingrained theatricality in each carefully curated soundscape makes this world increasingly more complex and consuming.
Titular track ‘Abandon All Hope’ is a riotous moment, with a mantric reminder to “take it one day at a time”. It crescendos to absolute mayhem before unleashing a shattering euphoria as the track shifts once more.
‘No Shadow’ is a more mellow moment, frantically finger-picked guitar and more subdued vocals giving way to a quieter distress. ‘Leaving The Boys Behind’, meanwhile, seems delivered with a smirk. It’s nigh on impossible to predict which direction Flynn might dart in next, each listen becoming a never-ending chase to pin him down.
The album’s magnum opus comes in the form of ‘Crude Oil’, the sixteen-and-a-half minute long odyssey that traverses a volatile period in Flynn’s life through a growing, shifting perspective over time. It’s a masterclass in pursuing a feeling and finding inspiration from that. From the exhausted desolation of the initial six minutes to the delicate cello that accompanies Flynn’s vocals in the mid-section, it all leads to a frenzied conclusion, an expulsion of those pent-up thoughts and feelings.
There’s a bleak joy to be found on Abandon All Hope that is impossible to pinpoint. It continually transforms and shifts with each listen, deftly trying on different versions of Flynn’s artistry. Ultimately, the amalgamation of genres and styles and personas Ethan P. Flynn settles on all contribute to his being cemented as one of the most thrilling artists we have.