Eilish Gilligan has always been capable of creating synth-driven sad bangers. With this ability more than apparent and present across previous EPs and singles, Gilligan returns with her second EP in the form of five track wonder First One To Leave The Party. Following less than a year since debut EP Hospital, First One To Leave The Party feels like Gilligan has reached a new high as an artist and will only continue to do so as her sound progresses over future releases. With a string of great singles pieced together and slowly released over the past half-decade, seeing Gilligan manage to release two significant bodies of work in quick succession highlights a musician fully coming into their own as a person and artist.
If you haven’t heard much of Eilish Gilligan, picture an artist bordering on what Chvrches has managed to do across all their albums, while bringing in a little bit of the emotive sadness you’ve come to expect in songs by E^ST or Gretta Ray. What is exciting about First One To Leave The Party is the breadth in sound Gilligan has created over its near 20-minute run. Ultimately written since heading into Melbourne/ Wurundjeri lockdown in 2020, Gilligan should be completely happy and pleased with how the EP has turned out.
Opening track “Up All Night” is a churning and powerful less than 3 minutes of synth, telling the story of a person riddled with anxiety and not wanting to be the boring friend. Describing the song as liberating and full of life, I think Gilligan is pretty spot on with this assessment as her vocal is matched incredibly well with the ’80s tinged synth sound. It’s genuinely just a fun and sincere song; nothing more or less.
Following “Up All Night” is “Get Well Soon”, a song about crushing on someone hoping they’d notice. With the chorus seemingly taken directly from any teenager’s diary entry about the frustration of unrequited love (‘tell me the point of looking beautiful if you’re not here to see it’), “Get Well Soon” is a dose of bouncing pop that feels like it could be a cut from E^ST’s album from last year.
The sweet melancholia of “When You Forget Me” is one of the better/bitter songs on the EP. Written about an ex, Gilligan is pretty forthcoming in not hiding her distaste for them as she grows ever more furious that her ex is by all accounts ok post break up. It shows a little bit of sass from Gilligan, which honestly is more than welcome.
Gilligan slows it down and gets even more earnest with the listener over the closing two songs on the EP. The titular “First One To Leave The Party” is an introspective and nostalgic laden assessment of herself as she realises self-growth and acceptance after coming to terms with a breakup. Written in collaboration with Alex Lahey and Japanese Wallpaper, it’s a song of growth and one that encompasses everything the EP stands for.
EP closer “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me” is the longest and probably most complete of the EP’s songs. Coming to terms with the end of something that once was great, Gilligan highlights a maturity in songwriting that will place her in good stead for a future of more sad bangers across future releases. While only five songs in length, First One To Leave The Party does enough in its short run to get excited for and about what Eilish Gilligan is building towards. I’m backing her to get better with every release; you should too.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Eilish has the following gigs lined up to launch the EP (obviously the Sydney show is doubtful at the moment).
Header image credit: Jeff Andersen Jnr