EP REVIEW: William Ryan Key – Everything Except Desire
Photo Credit: Acacia Evans
William Ryan Key is most well-known for being the frontman of the hugely successful pop-punk band Yellowcard. In his time with Yellowcard, he had gold and platinum selling albums, picked up awards and toured the world. When the band announced their retirement in 2017, many a fan was left wondering what the future would hold for their favourite band members.
Roll on five years and Key stands at an important point in his new journey as a singer, songwriter and producer. Everything Except Desire is the third EP he has released since his life changed and he decided to go it alone. It actually feels like the other two EP’s, Thirteen and Virtue, were simply preparation for this one, that he’s been building towards finding his place in music again.
Originally released to his Patreon community in 2020, the songs that make up Everything Except Desire are not like anything heard from Key to date. Certainly nothing like Yellowcard. When talking about his new release Key said: “I was fighting the fight of wanting to continue music, but needing to move on from Yellowcard. It was a freeing sensation to finally press record.” This is somewhat fitting, as listening to the EP is a freeing sensation also.
Swim Back opens up the EP and throughout the more than five minutes of ambient, electronic sounding bliss, you’re temporarily transported into Key’s world. Despite being yet to hear his signature voice, the song is exquisite. An instrumental that could very well soundtrack a late night drive or a walk by the beach on an autumn or winter’s day.
Next up is the lead single Face In A Frame, which bizarrely feels like the least impressive track on the EP. Although that’s hardly an insult, as the calibre of every song is very high. Here we get the first taste of Keys’ vocals and how they work against the soundscape he has created. Soft and mellow, they float across the top of the music effortlessly as he sings “Thought I needed a place in this / Maybe if I could change you’d get / Out from under the sun and come / Run with me in the dark undone”
The next song is Brighton and it’s a little more upbeat, but in the same spirit as the songs that came before it. It has a little more bite to it and is one of the standout songs on the record. Key wants us to know that for him, this record represents becoming healthier and shedding mental weight throughout his exploration. “This EP was an attempt to find a better version of myself and figure out why I let myself fall into those negative patterns and habits,” he said. This seems to shine through lyrically in the remaining songs, Heavens and Union Chapel.
Everything Except Desire is only five songs but 28 minutes in length, practically as long as some albums these days. Listeners that hear it once are bound to put it on again and again. With every listen you’ll notice new things musically, as well as lyrically.
In every gig poster or show listing published online, Key is listed as “formerly of Yellowcard”. With music like this coming out of his corner, perhaps it’s time we dropped that moniker and simply introduced him as William Ryan Key, an artist in his own right. One to watch out for in the future. Here’s hoping for a full-length sometime soon.
Standout Tracks: Brighton, Union Chapel
For Fans Of: The Black Queen, Crosses, The Midnight
Written by: Cat Wiltshire