Banners’ sophomore EP creates excitement for full-length album

Sometimes, you have to dip your toes into the water before you take the plunge. You can’t invest everything you have before dabbling in a subject area for a short period. English artist Banners has had his toes in the water of the music scene for just over a year now and has released two extended plays. However, Banners should take the full dive into the music world due to the incredible success of his first two EPs. Recently, Banners released his sophomore EP Empires on Fire and hopefully, his popularity will continue to rise with this release.

Michael Joseph Nelson, known as the stage name Banners, is an artist from Liverpool, England. Banners only has two five-song EPs released, as well as a handful of singles. His debut self-titled EP was released in 2016 with Island Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Since then, he’s found incredible success. Banners has been featured on a number of popular TV shows including The Royals on E!, Teen Wolf on MTV, and The Bold Type on Freeform. Not only has he found success in mainstream media, but the charting numbers also prove his recent success. Banners has three different singles that have made various charts in both Canada and the United States.

The EP starts with an unexpected balance of both synthesizer and violin on the track “Someone to You.” When the vocals start on the song, he quiets his instrumental to make the vocals stand out. This song has great lyrics overall and is incredibly well written. I truly believe that “Someone to You” is Top 40 material in the best way possible.

The title track, “Empires on Fire,” creates a new focus on instrumentals I didn’t expect from Banners based on his previous releases. The song features truly incredible and complex instrumental breaks that the listener does not expect. This creates a pleasant listening experience and proves Banners is more than just an expert in soothing lyrics.

The only song I found a slight dislike for was “Firefly.” Quite frankly, I found the lyrics tackier than glue. However, I appreciated that the track brought the energy down at an appropriate time after two high energy tracks.

“Into the Storm” displays a more edgy side of Banners. The rock-n-roll based guitar riff present in the song gives me a sense of danger. Banners matches his vocals with the guitar riff and vocal slides that are present in the track. The matching element of guitar and vocals creates a unique listening experience that is so pleasant to the ear.

The last track, “Holy Ground,” was just what I was looking for as I ended my listening experience. The song made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside just like a good cup of coffee on a rainy day. This track is similar to his previous releases, “Ghosts” and “Half-Light”. This song soothes my sorrowful soul in a way I can’t explain. The track features just incredible vocals displaying a wide range. On top of the vocals, the lyrics are so unique and unlike anything I’ve listened to before. And yet, the lyrics are still relatable.

The EP has a great balance of emotions and sounds. I never found myself bored, for every song was a new encounter. This was not the EP I expected to get out of the typical Banners release in the best way possible. Since this is just a five-track EP, I cannot wait to hear a full-length release from Banners in the future.