Elio Mardini is a Los Angeles-based musician. By the time you read this his debut single song should have debuted on MTV Arabia. The seven songs on his EP Bad Things and Cherryhill Lane were difficult to review. Initially I just wanted to leave the score up instead of a review because brilliance can be hard to put into words even if you recognize it. Mardini seamlessly weaves his influences, from entire genres to single musical groups and infuses them with on-point pop accessibility.
"Cherryhill Lane" is labeled as "Old French folk" and its circular harmonies, accordion bridges and old-timey piano sounds could be (I didn't look it up, I'll be honest). It's a theatrical sounding tune, very deep production, and a great introduction to Mardini's voice – quiet and sultry, low-key but also very candid in delivery. The standout line here is "I can't make love, because my lover is a whore" while a repetition of "can't make love" follows.
None of the songs on the album sound alike. They're characterized by crisp production, silky, smooth mixing and everything gels well. But in regards to influence? Hah! "Green Light" takes its cue from Edward Sharpe and the much lesser known Fernando with its steady handicapping that suddenly quickens in rhythm. The pattern is prevalent throughout the music and allows Mardini to easily build with a collage of instruments. He even gets the yelp down. But then songs like "Lock Your Lips" emulate the bubbly, synth-heavy pop that prevails over the radio. And Mardini captures it expertly, with a memorable hook and a lullaby of keyboard and samples.
Whatever Mardini is doing, he does it well. Each song is executed with confidence and the overall experience is, for me, acute satisfaction. Other affecting moments include the very close piano key changes on "Seven Times" and the music box-sounding melody that opens "Let It Burn," (my favorite song on the album), a thick anthem about self-respect, or self-destruction, or both. But moments like these don't just dot the album, they fully populate it. Mardini has a vision, a multi-faceted one, but Bad Things and Cherryhill Lane allows you a glimpse into this man's pristine pop world.
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