Like an all-day lounge in one’s bedroom after a breakup or similar emotional meltdown, helloe. is all parts relaxed, introspective, moody and reserved. The up-and-coming Houston-based singer LOE exudes a certain confidence on this EP that is demonstrated by a persisting lack of care for conformance. Whatever standards are held by female singers delving into this sound, LOE clearly, and sometimes frustratingly, has no interest in acknowledging them. The EP format helps her leap over potential pitfalls with her decisive artistic vision, leaving us with a sonically strong work. It shamelessly shows off its youthful ambition as it commands the respect typically reserved for LOE’s more established peers.
The lead track “TROUBLE” starts with a series of piano chords that alternate between a feeling of desperation and one of hope. This description also serves as a good starting point in describing LOE’s voice. She begins the track with the line “If you don’t believe in me, no one else will,” which is delivered with a direct coolness that suggests she has already accepted rejection. The line is sung in her middle register, which is the case for the majority of EP. It’s clear this is her comfort zone, which makes the drops to her low range very effective in shifting the tone of a track. In the case of “TROUBLE,” her range compliments the head-pounding drums and wealth of strings to a hypnotic effect. The wailing guitar serves as the emotional release that is teeming under her collected delivery.
“BEIGE” follows the same style, though the production creates a less dramatic and more relaxed atmosphere. Everything here is once again pleasing, but the track does seem a touch too long coming in at over five minutes. “FREEBASING” is much more captivating as LOE breaks free of the nonchalant melodies and owns the track vocally. Her high range finally, and briefly, comes in on the hook, coupled with deep, sticky synth notes. Her soft wails are also used in the background to an interesting effect towards the end, and are continued to be used for the remainder of the EP. A light reverb on “DECIDING” is about the only consistent feature of the production, as drums are sparse and sharp synths pop in and out. This is the most minimal usage of LOE’s voice on helloe., with words almost becoming inaudible when the beat does pick up – a syrupy track if there ever was one.
If “DECIDING” is the slowest point on the project however, “DARK HOUR” is the jarring second wind. Easily LOE’s most exciting performance thus far, she ceases to rely on her moody croon and sings with conviction. The production heavily relies on the drums which provide a faster tempo than previous tracks. The same lyrical content is present (yet another spin on the woes and torments of heartache and moving on), but the delivery alone is enough to consider this a highlight. The quirky “ENOUGH TIME” uses a glitchy vocal sample as the main feature of the production, pleasantly reminiscent of the soft samples used on the recent Aphex Twin drop. Lyrically speaking, the track is probably the strongest on helloe. We are made witness to a mock phone call and images of cruising through the city are depicted hazily; whether it’s before, during, or after the heartbreak is left up to the listener to decide, and the lyrics take on a different life depending on the interpretation.
LOE’s insistence on sticking to the script throughout works for helloe.. On a longer debut, an injection of variety will be much needed. She doesn’t need a club banger or a chart topper, but the brief look at what she can sound like when she ramps up the volume of her voice is a big tease. The project is sonically tight and avoids sounding too much like the influx of female vocalists exploring the same region of music. LOE has the relatability of recent breakout FKA Twigs, but there’s more of a pulse to LOE’s sound. It would be more akin to Lana Del Rey if it was more stiff and stoic like Lana’s studio efforts. That’s not to say one is better than the other, they certainly each have a style that suits them well. However, the fact that little-leaguer LOE invokes these trending names when being analyzed says a lot about her potential. Barring any future meltdown creatively, it looks like LOE is in this for the long haul. helloe. is a pleasing start to a career that, in near future, can hopefully shake things up in the big leagues.