Thank god the run time for Apolonio is only 25 minutes. Not that it’s offensive to listen to, it’s just dull, and there are much better ways to spend half an hour. Over the course of 9 tracks, I still don’t think I’ve heard an Omar Apollo album, or even know who he is. This album is void of any identity or originality and plays it as safe as it gets.
The idea that Omar Apollo tries to mimic Frank Ocean in everything he does is even apparent with the green hair on the album art. But honestly, this sentiment has been said over and over again, and it’s not always a bad thing to wear your influences on your sleeve.
I went into this album thinking, maybe Apolonio serves a purpose. Maybe when I get tired of overplaying Awaken My Love, or Channel Orange, I might enjoy listening to stylistically similar music. Then it occurred to me, a few tracks in, that there is nothing remotely as good as the weakest songs on those albums, even if Omar believes that he is amazing (the first track is called I’m Amazing). This album doesn’t even fill that void of wanting more music from your favourite artists, because it’s just not as interesting.
Occasionally, this album will give us a catchy riff, a nice melody, but that’s about is far as it goes. The second track ‘Kamikaze’ is decent, and the next track is also okay, but they’re just so by the numbers as far as this sound goes.
Stayback is literally just a Childish Gambino song. That’s not to say every funk revival with a Prince like falsetto is trying to be Donald Glover, but I think Omar Apollo probably heard Redbone one day and felt inspired to make a watered down version of a style that’s already paying homage to another style.
It was honestly so refreshing just to hear Kali Uchis on Hey Boy. She doesn’t do anything overwhelmingly special but it’s nice to hear something other than Omar half mumbling/half singing like Frank Ocean on RAF or Chanel.
There have been artists who have been heavily influenced by the likes of Frank Ocean, and have still managed to display song writing talent – artists like Dijon, Daniel Caesar, and Choker have all released promising music. The thing is, Omar Apollo did show some promise with his EP Stereo, but he has done nothing exciting to hold anyone’s attention with this album.
Apolonio gets lost in its own sequencing. Omar Apollo sings in Spanish too, in case you didn’t know, and surprisingly he doesn’t take the generic Latin pop route, instead he opts for a more traditional homage to Latin music, but it sticks out like a sore thumb in the track list. It’s a nice change of pace, but it doesn’t make much sense. Although he is clearly paying respects to his roots, it still doesn’t feel personal, or original.
Over the last two years, it seems every bedroom pop or indie influenced R&B singer is releasing an album that is far below any expectations. Apolonio is not exempt to that. It’s unfortunate to say that peers like Dominic Fike and Steve Lacy, two stars that showed lots of promise, released quite lacklustre albums, but at least they still had some identity and style.
Apolonio even seems to rip off these two, whether intentionally or not. But Omar Apollo can’t sing as well as these two, nor can he write a song as good as Politics & Violence, or Dark Red.
I was genuinely shocked to check the credits of ‘Useless’ to not see a Steve Lacy on either the production or vocals. This is a Steve Lacy song. It’s probably the best song on this album, but it’s a Steve Lacy song. Except he has about as much range as Jaden Smith. Sometimes, he even sounds identical to Jaden Smith (Bi Fren).
What is an Omar Apollo song? What does it sound like? Let’s take ‘Erase’, for example, a well written indie tinged R&B ballad that achieves a catchy melody and some nice vocals. That song isn’t on this album. This album doesn’t really have any well written songs. It has some ideas; however, these ideas have been done better by better artists.
The closer to this album is nice, but even his outro lacks any characteristics, other than the fact it wouldn’t feel out of place with a Childish Gambino credit. Honestly, the Frank Ocean comparisons don’t even hold up on this album. He is clearly a bigger fan of Childish Gambino and Steve Lacy.
The Indiana singer could maybe find more success crafting formulaic pop songs, and maybe he could find Tik Tok success in the process… But this 25-minute album felt like an hour, and I’ve already forgotten what most of the tracks sound like. It should have been an indicator when his guest spot on Joji’s Nectar was almost unbearable to listen to. I can’t say there’s much hope left for a promising follow up from Omar Apollo.
WRITTEN BY JAY FULLARTON