Review: Omar Apollo

Omar Apollo's newest album "Apolonio" showcases the artist's maturity and rare ability to excel in multiple genres. (Warner Records)

In 2018, Mexican American artist Omar Apollo broke into the indie-pop scene with his debut EP “Stereo.” On Oct. 16, he released his long-awaited project “Apolonio.” The nine-track album puts Apollo’s creativity on full display and shows the public how his music has matured since his time in the spotlight.

The opening track, “I’m Amazing,” is a mellow pop song. Like many of Apollo’s tracks, this opening number uses hints of Spanish to illustrate a tumultuous relationship. The song maintains one tone and showcases Apollo’s vocal range, making it a smooth introduction to the album.

“I’m Amazing” serves its purpose as a muffled background song with a choir of overlapping voices at an event, while guests pass around their stories they wish to not forget about people and places.

“Want U Around” is a track that sounds the way that satin feels. The song features a collaboration between Apollo and pop R&B artist Ruel, as they plead for their partners to stay. The instrumentals and high notes mesh perfectly to create a Prince-esque sound, with high notes and heavy guitar riffs — something Apollo is familiar with.

The sultry sound demands attention; missing one note is like missing the entire song. It will figuratively run an arrow through the heart of listeners, and they will feel as if they are laying on a cold bed in a dark room, waiting for their love to text back.

A highlight of the album, and something different, comes with the corrido “Dos Uno Nueve (219),” an homage to Apollo’s Mexican heritage. This is the first single released by the artist that is entirely in Spanish and in the corrido style, a genre that uses ballads to focus on narrative poetry about many topics. The title of the track is a reference to the area code in Apollo’s home state, Indiana.

The instrumentals of the song have a hint of indie-pop mixed in with the regional style of the traditional genre, which plays into both the Mexican and American side of Apollo’s identity. He sings about his struggles growing up in a low-income community as he takes the listener on his journey to success.

Another stand-out track is "Useless," which sounds like a pop track from a ‘90s film where the protagonist rides their bike down a suburban street with a walkman attached to the hip. The song was produced by Albert Hammond Jr., guitarist and keyboardist for the rock band, The Strokes.

The influences of Hammond Jr. can be heard with the uppity guitar riffs that decorate the track. Coupled with Apollo's high pitched harmonies, the sound makes for a fan favorite. The lyrics tackle the frustrations of a possible infatuation when love or lust becomes all-consuming, so much so that Apollo is no longer able to function without his love by his side.

The closing track of the album, “The Two of Us,” is a sweet and short song about young love. It’s reminiscent of R&B and soul music, but with a heavy electric guitar. It is a host to two voices harmonizing — Apollo harmonizes with himself but in a slightly higher key — as if two lovers are dedicating it to each other.

While the song’s lyrics are repetitive, its message of hope and intimacy are endearing as it sounds like how the sun feels on cold skin.

The constant use of a guitar connects the songs, making it a staple for Apollo’s brand while the diversity of tracks keeps the listener invested. Although “Apolonio” is not necessarily the most cohesive album, it showcases Apollo’s ability to dip his toes in any style and come out successful.

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