Album Review: ELIO – ‘ELIO and Friends: The Remixes’

Meet ELIO. The Charli XCX-approved pop star penning left-field bangers about modern failures and awkward exes. Enlisting the help of a gaggle of musical pals, her latest mixtape turns lockdown pop belters into remixed megabops, and Gemma Cockrell jumps in for the ride.

On ELIO and Friends: The Remixes, ELIO collaborates with some of her closest friends to further develop her favourite tracks from her two EPs, Can You Hear Me Now? and u and me, but mostly me. The ten tracks which appear on the album primarily discuss the common underlying lyrical themes of technology, the internet, communication, and Facetime, with features from artists such as Charli XCX, No Rome, and Chase Atlantic to give each song a new lease of life and a new perspective.

An obvious EP highlight is CHARGER, featuring Charli XCX. The hyper-pop starlet has been a huge supporter of ELIO since her breakout single My Friends Online surfaced on the internet just over a year ago, and with her shiny influence loud and clear throughout the discography, the collaboration makes perfect sense. When Charli appears on remixes, she always manages to perfectly capture the themes of the track, whilst also bringing her own energy and perspective. CHARGER is no exception. The song itself has an infectious pop melody and intelligent, sing-along lyrics about the awkwardness of accidentally leaving your phone charger at an ex’s house – an event which ELIO has admitted is fictional and hasn’t actually happened to her personally.

ELIO and Friends: The Remixes is, most importantly of all, a celebration of collaboration, creativity, and friendship.’

Speaking of My Friends Online, a remixed form appears on ELIO’s newest release. The original song was released during the first month of lockdown in 2020, and it quickly garnered a widespread (predominantly Gen-Z) audience who related strongly to the lyrics about addictions to technology (“I’m socially exhausted / But haven’t looked up from my phone”) and forming friendships on the internet (“I just want my friends online / To be around me when I die”). The remix of the song is a stripped-back version of the hyperpop track, trading its glitchy synth-driven instrumental for a more simplistic drum beat. It features hazy, distorted vocals and a mellow, laidback rap verse from Grady.

hurts 2 hate somebody is the only remix on the record to feature two artists. Chase Atlantic’s Mitchel Cave brings his signature autotuned vocals to the opening verse, which takes a similar tone to the original song but with different lyrics. Interestingly, the line “she says I need Jesus” which appeared in ELIO’s verse on the original track makes a solo comeback. The second verse sees the instrumentals switch and No Rome bring his own distinctive vocal style to the track, changing the melody of the verse to match the ambience of his own discography. Overall, the remix maintains the optimistic message of the original song, celebrating the liberation of moving on from resenting someone and leaving those negative feelings in the past.

Elsewhere on the album are some more understated, atmospheric moments. On Jackie Onassis, ELIO sings of escapism dreams with soft and reverb-heavy vocals. After a featured verse from rising star Nolie, the track strips back its layers to reveal a gentle acoustic guitar melody, mirroring the simplistic DIY-esque nature of the bedroom pop genre. Elsewhere, @elio.irl furthers the minimalistic sentiment with acoustic guitar instrumentals and soft humming vocals which depict the difficulties of being physically apart from a loved one. “When you get this, can you ring me back?” indie-folk star Adam Melchor lulls in another guest vocal appearance; his soft storytelling bringing another dimension to the song as if ELIO’s lover is responding from the other end of the phone.

ELIO and Friends: The Remixes is, most importantly of all, a celebration of collaboration, creativity, and friendship. The common downfalls of many remix albums are that they fail to add anything to the original songs, and sometimes they feel like forced collaborations between two artists who have no chemistry. However, ELIO manages to avoid all of these potential downfalls, producing a focused, meaningful and purposeful album of remixes that have evidently been crafted alongside other musical artists who are her genuine and sincere friends.

Written by: Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Featured and in-article image courtesy of elio.irl via Facebook.