CXLOE releases first EP Heavy, Pt. 1, displaying the richness and depth of her unique sound, whilst also exploring youthful, contemporary issues through intimate lyricism and haunting vocals. This release is relevant, euphoric, and introspective, with many of the issues of loneliness and relationship dilemmas rendered even more prevalent by current coronavirus restrictions.
Since rising to fame on the Australian X Factor and building her own sound, CXLOE’s music is often generically described as ‘dark pop’. While there are definitely moments of darkness on Heavy Pt. 1, better descriptors would be ethereal and haunting. The combination of breathless, swirling vocals contrasted against driven house beats creates a sound comparable to those of Billie Eilish and FKA twigs, but nevertheless unique, refreshing, and vulnerable in its own right. Among the ghostly, disjointed structures and sparkling, sporadic textures, frustration and deep emotional turmoil consistently shine through. Many of the songs on this EP are meandering in their direction, beginning with atemporal ambiguity before settling into their groove. While tracks such as Heavy are more driven and grounded than others, the poignant lyricism of many of the songs eliminates any hint of predictability.
The poignant subject matters and memorable lyricism are undoubtedly the standout features of this EP. The opening track, 12 Steps, discusses addiction with refreshing frankness, whilst maintaining its upbeat sound, “Bad habits, wouldn’t say I’m an addict, but I’m always 12 steps from your doorstep”. Continuing this theme, in track 2, One and Lonely, CXLOE draws on her personal experiences to explore the difficulties of navigating a long-distance relationship. Perhaps the standout track of the EP, in my opinion, is Plans, in which raw vulnerability (Got no plans, you’re my plans/We slow dance, shirt no pants) is placed side by side with flippant realism (Love is pathetic, but baby you get it/who am I who am I without you?). Moreover, the imagery “I’ve been sleeping with my phone/I dream of you until you call” rings especially true in these times, when numerous couples are estranged by distance and dating has become an even more complicated endeavour than it already was.
Although CXLOE is a young artist on the brink of international acclaim, Heavy Pt. 1 possesses a deep sense of maturity and wisdom, whilst exploring contemporary topics with youthful vigour. With this six-track EP, CXLOE has whetted our appetite and created an insatiable hunger for even more music, as her combination of raw topics, unique sound and exquisite vocal performance is infectious (in a good, non-COVID way…).