Every so often an excellent band makes a questionable move. Rather than biding their time and releasing a bank of new material of equal quality as 2012’s highly acclaimed ‘Freaks Like Us’, Straight Lines have opted to release a four track EP in the shape of ‘Escapology’, ultimately less of an EP and more of a novelty compilation or extended single.
Other than the title track, the EP provides ‘Empty Chest’ (lifted directly from the aforementioned full-length), a live recording of ‘Half Gone’ and an acoustic rendition of single ‘Ring The Bells’. The identical-to-the-album-version ‘Empty Chest’ is equally as good as it was upon the first release, serving only to raise the question as to why it was deemed necessary to be included as a B-side-of-sorts.
Were this billed as a single release rather than an EP release, you could forgive the band for being a little lazy with their inclusion, but with a live recording of ‘Half Gone’ – which to all intents and purposes sounds tantamount to the studio version – it results in ‘Escapology’ becoming more a minimalistic greatest hits with tracks taken exclusively from ‘Freaks Like Us’. As ‘Ring The Bells’ concludes the EP with a reasonably enticing acoustic performance complete with female vocal accompaniment, it becomes clear that ‘Escapology’ relies heavily on the opening title track. Fortunately this track is as good as any on ‘Freaks Like Us’, yet whether it warrants an invitation for fans to part with their money is ultimately debateable. The track would fit just as well in the midst of ‘Freaks Like Us’, or could have waited for a follow up release.
Because of all that, ‘Escapology’ does little to expand the Straight Lines repertoire – fans will find themselves disappointed with the lack of original material and new audiences are unquestionably better off with either of their full-length albums. The EP proves that Straight Lines can both write and perform songs with inherently catchy melodies and hooks; but we already knew this, didn’t we?