Mikky Ekko is an indie-pop dance artist that has done fairly well for himself over the past couple of years. He’s commonly known for his work with Rihanna on her song “Stay” in 2013 – the song sky-rocketed Ekko into the charts and resulted in him receiving global acclaim. Between 2012 and 2015 Ekko released a series of EPs that were widely ignored in light of a collaboration with David Guetta on “One Voice”. With the release of his debut album, Time, the spotlight is firmly focused on Ekko. His album was blazoned across the homepage of Deezer several days ahead of the release of the album, and was constantly recommended to Deezer users.
With such an enormous hype surrounding an album, it creates an exponential effect on your expectations of the album. It is in those few seconds before you hit play on the advance stream that your heart beats frantically with nervous energy as you sincerely hope that the album is going to be a masterpiece. Luckily, Ekko is nothing short of a Picasso and Time is a work of art. It is a delicate yet uplifting winding road of gentle indie-pop fused with eclectic commercial dance-pop.
Time is a sweeping tapestry of the delicate side of the human condition with lyrical themes bordering on cynical optimism, while gushing dreamy statements about love. Perhaps the song to best characterize this cynical optimism is the upbeat indie-pop dance anthem that is “Smile”. The song structure does what the title suggests and makes you smile. Upbeat guitar chords are backed by a repetitive electronic drum tempo, while faint hints of progressive house synth works swirl about in the background. The lyrics reflect the idea that eventually things will go wrong, but in the moment everything is going to be okay and one should “smile because the worst is yet to come”.
It is this kind of intelligent song writing that sets Ekko apart from his contemporary male pop artists. Rather than cohering to some clichéd standard of writing a song about “boy meets girl” and interject it with some vague misogyny, he rather digs deeper into the human condition and personifies the fears of the future. He even manages to capture the awkward flutter of the heart that we experience while in-love in songs like “Crazy in Love”, “Made of Light”, and “U”. He paints a delicate and ever-changing tapestry of what it means to be human, but decides to focus on the softer and more delicate side of our emotional spectrum.
Somehow, Ekko is capable of putting a positive spin on everything. A brilliant example of this is in the closing song “Loner”. Usually the concept of being a loner is portrayed in a negative light and the songs are enough to reduce one to a quivering emotional wreck. Ekko rather takes the concept of being a loner and spins it in a way that says he feels like a loner when he is not with his lover. He rather acknowledges that he is a loner, but knows that it will soon pass. This profound realization is all done with a commercial dance beat backing the song up. Mikky Ekko, I doff my cap to you, my good sir. You’ve successfully created an album through Time that seems like a pop album at face value, but develops into a deeper, and more profound piece of musical art.