Apolonio brings us one step closer to figuring out what kind of artist Omar Apollo wants to be.
Omar Apollo’s identity as an indie-pop artist seemed muddled over the last few years. While he has an enchanting voice, his style didn’t seem like it was going to be anything groundbreaking. He could sing, he could write, but it was unclear as to what kind of music he truly wanted to make. Apolonio, Apollo’s first record on a major label, looks to be the crooner’s clearest indication of what he wants to be.
The first track, “I’m Amazing,” has a cocky title but the lyrics on the track tell a different story. Despite hearing his fans tell him he’s amazing, he can’t help but feel it’s a stretch and that he hasn’t got anything more figured out than the rest of us. It’s the first of many laid-back funk-filled tracks across the project’s very brief 26 minutes.
“Want U Around” and “Hey Boy” offer sultry vocals from their respective guests, Ruel and Kali Uchis, the latter of whom is a shining light on an already breezy track. The chemistry Apollo shows with both of them demonstrates his willingness to explore the back seat, something he had little of before Apolonio.
Despite these already high points on the album, Apollo doesn’t shy away from making a song that takes a few more sonic risks. “Dos Uno Nueve (219)” is an acoustic guitar-led song performed entirely in Spanish. Though it wouldn’t do well in the club or at a party, it would certainly make for good horse-riding music in Red Dead Redemption.
The final three tracks are a bit rudimentary and somewhat derivative of other indie-pop songs out there, but aren’t bad by any stretch. “Useless” sometimes feels like Apollo is putting on his best Julian Casablancas impersonation, while “Bi Fren” just sounds like a Khalid leftover.
Apolonio moves us closer to piecing Omar Apollo’s music together. He clearly wears his inspirations on his sleeves, but also tries to combine them so much that they won’t matter. While borrowing the best elements from artists like contemporary indie-pop and R&B artists, it won’t be long before the sound he works with becomes definitively his.
Trial Track: Hey Boy (feat. Kali Uchis)