For the past eight weeks or so I’ve been working from home due to COVID-19. For the first couple weeks, I was set up in the basement but then moved up to the den where my record player is. After all, getting up every 15-22 minutes to flip over or change the record counts as exercise, right? This morning I was listening to music from some of my favorite female, and female led, bands; Bossie, Casper Skulls, Charly Bliss, Alvvays and Stella Ella Ola when the opportunity to review the upcoming EP from Best Ex came up. After listening to the first 30 seconds of “Gap Tooth (On My Mind),” I jumped at the opportunity to get an early listen to the rest of the EP and write this review.
Good At Feeling Bad, out May 22, 2020 via No Sleep Records/Alcopop Records, is the follow up to 2017’s debut EP Ice Cream Anti-Social. Mariel Loveland, who is behind Best Ex, has recorded an EP highlighting some of the good and bad experiences she has gone through over the past couple of years. The six songs that make up Good At Feeling Bad are about the journeys of self-discovery that people go through.
The first track, “Gap Tooth (On My Mind)” is an upbeat, pop-sounding song that has Loveland singing about living her life for and through another person. “When I wrote it, I had been living on and off in England for the last few years with my then-boyfriend and his family,” she explains. “I started to realize over the course of our relationship that my life completely dissolved into his, which I think can happen when you’re dealing with a partner who’s suffering from depression. I had become so obsessed with caring for him and making him happy that one day, I woke up with an entirely different life in a foreign country. The future looked fantastic, so when he decided to dump me in a short phone call right before the holidays, it felt like someone had broken in and robbed me of my entire life in the middle of the night. I spent all of Christmas crying and the entire New Year’s begging my mom to come pick me up from my brother’s house. A few months later, I wrote this song.”
“Lemons” is another poppy song that hides darker emotions as Loveland examines the friendships developed over the years and coming to the realization that people she expected to be by her side through thick and thin disappeared when the going got tough. This song showcases her writing skills as the lyrics paint graphic mental images for the listener.
The first pre-released single, “Bad Love” moves in a different direction from the first two songs. The music is a slower, minor shoe gazing background to a very introspective journey and retrospective analysis of relationships.
I really enjoyed the minimalist approach that “Feed the Sharks” takes, allowing Loveland’s beautiful vocals to take front and center, leading to an enjoyable listening experience. This is the song I found myself humming after listening to the EP for the first time.
“Two of Us” is a wonderful song, reminding me of Kate Bush. Again, the vocals take control and are full of emotion. It’s another introspective track addressing worries and fears about the future. The final song, “Good At Feeling Bad” goes back to the upbeat, poppy sounds of the first couple tracks. It feels like a deeply personal song, full of self-doubt and wondering how things really are or if the singer is just fooling herself.
Overall, I found myself really drawn to Loveland’s vocals. She is the type of vocalist that could stand on stage singing out a phone book and the audience would be entranced.