Emil & Friends – Lo & Behold Album Review

On Lo & Behold, Emil & Friends have assembled a pop album the way a mash-up DJ might piece together a mix. By incorporating a wide-reaching mélange of elements, the band has created a playful universe of sound where just about anything they can dream up goes.

 

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From track to track and within each track itself, the possibilities are… unpredictable. “Rain Check,” with its groovy basslines and horns, could soundtrack a New York street party in the middle of a summer; “Mask Like Face” begins as a traditional indie pop track but explodes into digitized voice manipulations that cavort with strings and electronic blips. “C.U.P.I.D.” rolls with modern hip-hop swagger yet bears proggy guitar breakdowns; “Flashback” starts off peacefully nostalgic but builds into a cheesy ’80s guitar solo that disappears just as quickly as it appears.

Listen to “Crystal Ball”DOWNLOAD MP3

 


Frontman Emil Hewitt and company are so adept at keeping you fascinated by their menagerie of sounds and influences that lyrical content — delivered by Hewitt in his clean, high-register voice reminiscent of emo frontmen of the ’90s — becomes secondary. Heavy effects and layering create vocals that often supplement the instrumentation rather than stand alone, and it may be only after numerous spin-throughs that one notices — indeed! — Hewitt is actually saying things like “C’est la vie/ No underwear” (“Ali Baba”) and “C-U-P-I-D/ Come for all the ladies” (“C.U.P.I.D.”).

Emil & Friends – C.U.P.I.D. by emilandfriends

Emil & Friends – Prescriptions by emilandfriends

It is to be noted, though, that not every song on Lo & Behold is so juvenile. “Lo & Behold” and “Perscriptions” may even be considered mature. Yet, it is the tracks which are most ridiculous that somehow clue listeners into Emil & Friends’ brilliance; they drive home the point that theirs is a clever and deliberate approach to pop.

Lo & Behold is an invitation for listeners to discover the fascinating universe of Emil & Friends, where overlooked details and textures never seem to stop emerging. Even when their lyrics ring silly or their choice of sound clips bear resemblance to hoaky game shows, antiquated spy films, or video game arcades, Emil & Friends have the sparkle to own every unconventional decision they make, with dignity.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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