Olya – Utopia – EP Review
At the very least, you’ve got to appreciate this new EP from Brooklyn, New York-based electro-pop artist Olya…it’s completely put together and assembled entirely by this beautiful lady 100% on her own. And you already know well-enough – we LOVE DIY here at sleepingbagstudios, and especially when it turns out well like it has here on Utopia; Olya should be proud of this accomplishment as it truly is an achievement when listening to it from the perspective that it’s been created by one person alone.
Are you going to ‘get’ it? That’s a tougher question to answer. First off…Olya sings this EP half in English and half in her native Russian tongue…so as long as you can get into the idea of other languages driving your melodies you’ll be in good shape to enjoy these rhythmic electro-infused melodies she’s created. For the rest of you…get yourselves a grip and step into an entirely new world of exploration in music…bust out of your shell and take a chance for once in your sheltered lives!
It starts out with “Misli / Мысли” which opens with inviting tones of electo and a subtly energetic beat that hints at even more energy to come as the fantastic chorus expands. Olya sings perfectly and beautifully in Russian throughout, her own tone and energy matching the music beat for beat in harmony. I just asked my wife Becky about how important it was to know the ‘actual’ words when listening to music like this; she’s always been my meter-stick for universal acceptance. Apparently it falls into the category of you can ‘listen to this anywhere but in the car;’ meaning simply that you COULD in fact listen to this quite comfortably in a car yourself most likely…she just happens to like to sing along when she’s driving. I pointed out quickly that she more than likely doesn’t know ALL the words to the songs she already chooses to sing along to…that she could fake it like she most likely does with these songs she loves. Turns out she’s comfortable guessing and substituting words in English but feels it would be disrespectful to ‘fake it’ in Russian. I love this woman…her logic makes my entire world turn…
For those of you that NEED your English-wordage & lyrics, Olya sings the next two songs “Lift Me Up,” and “Crash And Burn” with a hint of an accent that sounds beautifully innocent and sweet as she performs in her second language. It gives the music a unique quality and also helps to truly set her apart in her sound from the rest of electro-pop. “Lift Me Up” starts out in a melancholy & subtle atmosphere before breaking through to some truly danceable rhythm. She’s got well-placed backing harmonies for herself and a great set of instincts on how to carry the song dynamically through both the music and the vocals. As it heads into “Crash And Burn,” you can hear the confidence and control even more – this song has a TON of incredibly smooth-hooks hanging from it ready to catch any eardrum within earshot. Olya reminds me somewhat of Poe, the Australian beauty that captured my heart in the mid-90’s with her dark and melodically-gorgeous material. Esthero was the next to be able to give me that feeling…and I’d easily put Olya in this kind of great company when listening to the jazzy & innovative style that she sings “Crash And Burn” with. The chorus on this song is nothing short of incredible and that’s completely due to the amazing way she’s chosen to sing this song – Olya’s song-writing instincts are fantastic and the way she performs really bring these words from ink on paper into the blood running frantically through your veins.
Although I liked the following track “Under My Control,” it would have been extremely tough to match how much I enjoyed “Crash And Burn.” Tough mountain to climb…as they say… I think she made an overall wise decision to take the energy in a different direction after “Crash And Burn” with the rhythmic-pop of “Under My Control.” I think that low-key atmosphere of the music on repeat listens makes a lot more sense than the initial shock of the switch in energy between tracks 3 & 4 on the Utopia EP…Olya is a woman of many talents and gifts and is unafraid to try melodies of all kinds and pursue all directions that her ambitions can take her. “Under My Control” has a wonderful mysterious, yet playful atmosphere…and of all things that I love most in this track, hands-down it’s what she’s choosing to do in the background with her inventive harmonies and cleverly inserted sample-sounds from her vocals.
Title-track “Utopia / Утопия” is an interesting track for its melody and structure. Was it not for the language itself, I almost would have assumed this sound came from more of a Spanish influence. Excellent light, bright & beautiful atmosphere on this EP’s centerpiece and its pulsing rhythm set a gorgeous melody for Olya to put her sweet voice to. Definitely carries a European dance-party vibe to it even though it moves at a slow & sexy pace…it’s an entirely captivating performance once again and another terrific electro-pop melody.
Though I’m not sure if anyone would argue that she hasn’t hit her stride by the time “Iskala Tebya / Искала Тебя” begins and she starts to sing in her wonderful tone & energy once more. Like a combination of Men Without Hats and Madonna, Olya sings this one with an uplifting tone that sounds like a fantastic invitation to embrace the day, dance, live and love. It’s a real playful energy and smart-mix on this song…the way she bends and shapes her vocals to fit the meter perfectly on “Iskala Tebya / Искала Тебя” is approached with melody, professionalism and genuine heart. I get the feeling that a singer/song-writer like Olya could be capable of some truly innovative and incredible music in the future to come…she’s already put in a fantastic start on Utopia with a full-range of amazing ideas brought to vibrant life and she’ll only continue to astound from here on in I strongly believe.
Case in point – the closing track “Ne Zrya / Не Зря” still features her fantastic vocals, but man does she ever unleash the dreamer & creative-side to her song-writing more than any other to grace this EP. Beautifully played and produced…Olya has been getting it right all throughout Utopia, but she truly rises to the top of her own achievements on this final song. “Ne Zrya / Не Зря” is another innovative melody that allows the mind to step right into Olya’s world and really experience the music as she’s envisioned it to be. With full creative-control of her sound, Olya has followed her incredible instincts right to the enth degree on this EP, and with an absolute blast of melodic, emotional-fireworks in her final song have certainly made her an artist I’ll remember completely.
Find out more about Olya from her official page at: http://www.olyamusic.net/ and make sure to keep your eyes & ears open for her Utopia EP due out this year on June 15th!
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