Marxoxo: “Velvet” EP Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

Originality:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Vocals/Flow:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Lyrics:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Production:4 Stars (4 / 5)
Average:3.3 Stars (3.3 / 5)

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where glitter-pop came from. Sure, “glitter rock” was another name for the prominent glam rock genre of the early 1970s, but you won’t find anything that sounds like KISS or the New York Dolls on Velvet, the newly released debut EP from California singer Marxoxo. Hailing from the Bay Area, he makes music that absolutely fits into a “glitter pop” context, as the EP is struck somewhere between the bubblegum-pop of the new age and the classic synth driven groups of the 80’s. Describing the EP himself on his Facebook page as “my crying in the club soundtrack”, Velvet is bound to make you both footloose and emotional.

The EP opens with the lead single “AS I LIKE U”, which Marxoxo released on his SoundCloud page last September. The track immediately lights up your stereo with its crystal-like synth arpeggio. When the beat drops in and Marxoxo starts singing, the listener almost forgets what decade they’re in, as his voice sounds like a distinct mix of Morrissey and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear). The song’s final verse aptly sums up feelings of the singer’s own unrequited love: “Probably said too much scared him off with my doubts and thoughts/Silly naive Marky that’s what you get when you chase love/I know that it takes two but I’m scared it’s me not you/If we don’t get it right that somehow the fault is all mine”. 

The following track, “NUMB” almost acts as a soldier for this notion with its sky-scraping, incredibly catchy chorus melody, although it does seem like Marxoxo is struggling to fit all of his lyrics into one phrase. The first great song on the record is the upbeat and easily danceable “IT’S NOT MY FAULT”. This is one of the tracks where Marxoxo’s sense of production really shines through. The full frequency spectrum is represented in this song through a nicely polished trap beat and throbbing, pounding synth tones. The lyrical subject hasn’t changed much, however, recalling the record’s themes of heartbreak and romantic loss as Marxoxo sings, “I swear that it’s not my fault/Don’t you try to drop my call/You tell me that I’m the source of it, oh/I swear that it’s not my fault/At least I think you cut it off/Without a single sign or warning”.

On “MAYBE U” there’s a mystical sense of energy as synthesizers quietly ping-pong around the mix. Marxoxo, who croons about being “all alone in this game”, sounds as velvety as ever through the layered effects on his voice. “Delete” pairs the Panda Bear-quality of Marxoxo’s voice with a sonic backdrop that’s a bit more representative of the sound of Animal Collective’s late 00’s heyday, but the songwriting is still very straightforward. “2Sensitive” brings another familiar sounding voice into the mix: Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. 

The record closes with a bang through the slow-burning, incredibly modern sounding single “PARTY BOY”. It’s one of the EP’s greatest sounding tracks and Marxoxo showcases one of its best melodies.“Bring me a bottle of wine/And take me into the night/Atop the hills and above the lights/Let’s dance the week alive” is how Marxoxo describes his ideal night, and it comes packaged as a a steamy and strobe lit club banger. The singer assures you that a party can be just you and someone you love.

All things considered, Velvet is a good introduction to the artist, from an artist – one who is brand new and ready to rumble. Marxoxo wants you to know that he’s got love on his mind, and he does it through seven incredibly fresh and fun dance songs. This EP is layered and structured in a way that really grows on the listener. Hopefully Marxoxo is planning some live performances so we can see his luscious longing in action.

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