If indie-rock's been feeling a bit bleak these days, IO Echo are here to ensure that stops with their music. Their new self-titled EP brings a complexity to the genre, thanks to the integration of moody undertones, touches of lo-fi aesthetics, and scene-stealing electro flourishes. These five tracks feature layers of sultry synth and soft reverb, piercing instrumentals and startling honesty; ricocheting between heart-tugging verse ["Outsiders" (Slow Mix)"], dreamy imaginings ["Shanghai Girls"] and thumping, quietly dark musings ["Carnation"]. Although the EP doesn't officially drop until tomorrow [October 16], you can treat your ears to its premiere right now, and then go behind the incredible journey these songs represent with an exclusive track-by-track commentary from the band.
1. Shanghai Girls: This EP is about coping with different kinds of loss — heartbreak, death, etc — through escapism. "Shanghai Girls" is about re-uniting with a love in another dimension. Our imagination took us to a far away field of iris and cypress trees, and a sonic landscape influenced by the far east.
2. When the Lilies Die: We continue in this field to a garden where we enter through a beautiful gate. The garden is alluring. It is lined with cherry blossoms and is buzzing with the electricity of a new experience, a new love. But this oasis of new love is soon revealed to be a mirage as winter descends unexpectedly. As we pass through the garden we look back in hindsight at the once promising bloom of passion which has now wilted in the frost of a heart gone cold.
3. Ministry of Love: Past the garden there is a door. A door to a 'windowless room with a permanent light.' In reference to Orwell's "1984," Ministry of Love is about maintaining belief and hope while facing the thing that you fear the most. The lyric also gives reference to the notion in certain eastern cultures that the west has a tendency to blast out all semblences of shadows, but really shadows should be revered as much as the light. Therefore, in this land, full light is as dangerous as full dark. They must exist together. It's a love song but it's about the horror as well as ecstasy of realizing you can never escape "it."
4. Outsiders (Slow Mix): Takes place by the ocean. For my dad who passed away this year.
5. Carnation: The Drums took us on tour and championed us recently in such a touching way. They are great musicians and so, after becoming friends with Jonny, we all talked about doing a song together. Throughout the EP, flowers figure prominently as a symbol for different stages of a grieving process. The carnation is a flower which has always been heavy with symbolism throughout literature, with pink carnations having the most historical significance. According to legend, "carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus' plight, and carnations sprang up from where her tears fell." Therefore the pink carnation symbolises unconditional love. But in the context of the lyrics of the song, it takes on a disturbing meaning. This song has lyrics which are probably the darkest on the EP.