The enigmatic project known as ilo ilo has been in my orbit for some time now, and I finally took the plunge on the Los Angeles artist's debut, wish i said this to u sooner. Arriving via Big Beat, the slim five-track EP is a potent indie pop mood, crafted from a narrative of tracks stylized in ilo ilo's signature lower case. There's a certain Tumblr-esque youthful appeal to the brand, from the confessional style lyrics to the anonymous figure gracing the album artwork, and even the meaning of "ilo ilo" – Chinese slang for “parents aren’t home."
"u don't" shows ilo ilo's penchant for punchy synths, while introducing frank, intimate lyrics seemingly pulled from our anonymous hero's diary – "u don't have to make me want u." There's a richly visual element present when our vocalist croons, "flowers on the side of the road, feelin something i don't know." I think there's a sense of beautiful irony in an artist keeping their identity hidden while releasing such seemingly personal, descriptive music. It adds to the vibe that ilo ilo exudes of being your internet best friend, offering true empathy while hiding just on the other side of the screen. "come thru" is a nod to ilo ilo's cheeky adolescent energy, its coy lyrics cut with an arresting low end. "current" brings steady tidal waves of energy, propelling the listener into mother nature's wrath – "it's powerful, the push and pull. i'm caught in your current." with a slightly jovial energy, "transparent" cuts a gentle groove and the closing track "what u need" rounds out the moment with a hit of genuine tenderness.
Prior to this, my exposure to ilo ilo has been due in large part to the project's successful street marketing campaigns, which in the past have involved a city-wide scavenger hunt in New York City and most recently saw eight foot tall statues of the ilo ilo symbol mysteriously installed at high traffic areas around Los Angeles including Venice Beach and Echo Park. You can even call the number (808) 202-2690 for more info (which I highly recommend doing). It's a beautiful addition to the artful, multimedia nature of the project. "The dream feels real."