Warner · April 8, 2022
Omar Apollo’s new album Ivory is a sensationally varied mix of songs that showcase his talent and reveal his vulnerable side. Despite the album’s wildly eclectic arrangement, the Indiana artist seamlessly crosses genres throughout the album from bedroom pop to brown eyed funk to Mexican folk. Ivory, Apollo’s debut, is his most authentic piece of work to date, fluently showcasing the young artist’s influences and background. Every song represents a different side of Apollo’s personality exquisitely. As described in an Apple Music interview, “It’s like four Omar Apollos all coming together to eat dinner.” Apollo is an up and coming songwriter who first appeared on the radar when he uploaded his first single, “UGotMe” to Spotify in 2017. Since then, he has released three EPs and numerous singles such as “Go Away,” “Kickback,” “Want U Around,” and “Kamikaze.” His collaborations on tracks with artists like Kenny Beats, Kali Uchis, Dominic Fike (“Hit Me Up”), and Still Woozy helped him gain popularity with a wider audience after his first EP was released in 2018. Apollo limits features on Ivory, only including songs with vocals from Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis. Pharrell produced one of Apollo’s projects, “Tamagotchi,” making it one of the top songs from the album. Apollo was “geeked out about performing with Pharrell” on the album, saying that working with a seasoned producer taught him a lot about music structure and trusting one’s instincts. Based on his performance on individual songs throughout this new album, Apollo’s on the way to breaking out of the indie music scene and onto Billboard.
The song “En Olvido” references his upbringing as a first-generation Mexican American. He sings the ballad beautifully with an acoustic guitar, tracing back to his roots in Mexican folk ballet. “Tamagotchi” is “En Olvido”’s edgy opposite. Apollo slips between rapping in English and Spanish like a bilingual god throughout the song. The song’s production and construction were built to ring in people’s ears, after they listened to it for the hundredth time on their best speakers. “Tamagotchi” represents Apollo’s unapologetically bold, extroverted and bougie side. There is no question that the song is irresistibly sexy, making the listener feel prepared to approach the next handsome stranger they see in the club. He sings about being a person to desire, singing “I want your body, you want me, too / I see you coming, I come for you.”
Another fast-tempo song, “No Good Reason,” has a poppy soundscape similar to hits from the early 2000s. It is short but sweet, and shows Apollo’s ability to expertly maneuver through offbeat melodies. Similar to one of his musical influences, Prince, Apollo remains in a high register throughout the chorus of the song, singing over a bubbly, uptempo beat. Lastly, the final song in the album,“Mr. Neighbor,” is the most experimental. Starting with a loud cry, Apollo refrains from making the song too melodic. Like other indie artists like Dijon and Bon Iver, Apollo exhibits pure emotions throughout the entire song, rather than just focusing on the melody.
Apollo expresses his identity throughout the entire project, describing his experiences with love and heartbreak while switching between native tongues. He sensually describes his relationships with other men in every song on the album. He further represents the B in LGBTQ by adding to the complex story of his lover leaving him for a woman in “Evergreen.” He expresses his feelings of rejection by saying, “Was there something wrong with my body?” This presentation of situations invites the listener into Apollo’s flexible understanding of love and relationships. The album’s ebb and flow from bubbly and upbeat to slow and dreamy is well constructed and deliberate. Apollo worked late nights and long weeks on the album, creating an excellent piece of experimental art. Ivory leaves people wondering what else Apollo will come up with as he grows and matures.