in earnest – ‘your dog / good boy’ | New Music

in earnest band 2021

in earnest release new double A-Side single ‘your dog/good boy’


I am a cat person through and through. I have never owned a dog. After listening to in earnest’s new release, double single your dog/good boy, I have never been so sure that I need one in my life. 

We know by now that Southend On Sea’s in earnest hold the recipe to pulling at your heartstrings. ‘your dog’ and ‘good boy’ are crafted with absolute emotional honesty, recorded in Tom and Sarah’s living room, with the titular heroine, Murph, at their feet. Multi-instrumentalist Toby adds harmonium and violin remotely, punctuating the tracks with a sweeping, filmic backing, without sacrificing the feeling of closeness in the production.

First track your dog is a tribute to the queen herself, Murph, whom Tom and Sarah rescued in 2016. Analogue production and a gentle finger-picked guitar line evokes nostalgia: suddenly you’re sat in your childhood home watching old tapes, or looking at grainy photos of family trips to the beach. It’s a beautiful introduction, guiding you by the hand through this emotional double single.

At face value the song considers the questions you would ask your loved pet if they could speak to you. Your dog addresses Murph as a complex being with her own autonomy, rather than a passive object serving only as a comforter for her owners. Yet there are also layers of self-introspection within the lyrics:

What’s the world like through your eyes? To be happy with your bones?

It asks us to consider the intricacies of the self; the ways in which external comforts don’t always equal true fulfilment.

What’s it like to hear the fireworks?, Are you conscious of yourself?, Will you always hate Sam next door?, What’s it like to live for someone else?

In posing these questions to someone who can’t reply, what we’re really doing is asking ourselves what they mean to us. As always, in earnest’s lyrics are delicate and speculative but never overwrought; you can enjoy them at face value in a moment of peace, or dig deeper to examine the intricacies interlaced within them. Musically, the double vocal line draws on the intimate nature of the recording, and there’s an aching joy in the kinetic violin breaking through the background.

Next is piano-driven good boy, which weaves a tapestry of memories, documenting the life of Tom and Sarah’s dog Doug who passed away in 2019. This song is raw. If you’ve lost a pet recently, this will hit hard – you’ve been warned. 

The couples’ voices begin an octave apart but begin to drift and intertwine into delicate harmonies, reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s super-duo Better Oblivion Community Centre. Meanwhile the lyrical narrative dances around emptiness, loss and denial, but love is threaded throughout. Masters of the build-up, the song ascends in a flurry of violin and moving lyrics (It’s not been long but what a good heart – excuse me while I cry), shimmering and steadying to a peaceful close. 

As always, in earnest’s lyrical storytelling is immersive, but there is a symbiosis in the way they convey emotion, memory, loss and love in the wordless spaces as well. With your dog / good boy, the instrumental is just as evocative as the vocal, with Toby’s addition of violin and harmonium feeding into this connectivity. We see the fluid relationship between verbal and non-verbal; the same communicative threads that pass between a person and their loved pet. In earnest have proven that despite physical distance, their music will always feel closer than ever. It speaks to their subject matter – family transcends physical and spiritual space. I think we should all write more love songs about our pets.

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