Aquilo — Sober EP (7/8/20)
I’ve been following this English duo ever since I discovered their debut single “You There” in early 2015. This is one of several bands I can credit Daniel Victor of Neverending White Lights for introducing me to. “You There” was included in his top 100 songs of 2014.
Aquilo is known for very light and emotional music with soft electronic palettes and ambient textures, creating very dream-like melodies. The music can be so wispy and thin in a way that I find doesn’t always strike a chord with me, but when they land on the right feeling, it can work wonders.
This latest EP includes four new songs that according to the duo of Ben Fletcher and Tom Higham, “were written as an ode to the four stages we’ve both seen in breakups.”
The opening title track crawls along with sensitive keys, the lightest of percussion, and little flourishes of sultry guitar. To me, it depicts sobering up after coming out of a love-drunk relationship.
“Just Asking” takes on the role of the second stage in a breakup. Heavy-hearted piano leads the way as strings begin to swell into the song’s latter half. It’s a plea to give the relationship another chance.
“Always Forever” is my personal favourite. They use an interesting effect with the synth-keys (is that what it is?) as they lead into a very open refrain that creates this beautiful lullaby of a melody. It’s a bit tougher to determine what the song means in relation to a stage in a breakup though. I’m really not sure what they mean by “It’s always been forever with you,” but the surrounding lyrics hint at a slightly bitter tone.
They show their more lively side on the closer “Moving On.” There’s a solid drum beat riding throughout the most of it and the vocals even show off a bit of a rapped delivery at one point. It shows their soulful pop sound and the lyrics get quite cutting, expressing some anger towards the former partner. They say they’re “moving on” but there still seems to be a lot of doubt and frustration involved.
Aquilo is always a delight to hear but these songs are definitely lacking the emotional intensity that would land them a spot in my best of the year. They continue to live under the shadow of “You There” in my books but they show with this EP that they’re not a one-trick pony.