Mikky Ekko - Strange Fruit

Owain Paciuszko 06/06/2009

Rating: 4/5

32 second lead track Only in Dreams introduces the listener to Mikky Ekko's soft, lilting voice as it echoes (rather aptly) over a synth-line before the track segues neatly into Sedated. Backing vocals grumble with the operatic murmur of Rufus Wainwright, while an eccentric-pop beat has all the funk swagger of Prince, which should indicate that this EP is produced with truckloads of imaginatio and an ear for the grand. Ekko's vocals are a light counterpoint to the explosion of noise behind them.

Sad Eyes has Ekko crooning over a choir of ooos, with occasional hints of a defiant drum-beat and plonking piano drifting sleepily in and out. Ekko pulls a memorable chorus out of the laidback time signature, like Bon Iver's The Wolves (Part 1 & 2) it's a slow number that one can imagine lifting the spirits of a festival crowd singing, nay bellowing, along. Unlike Bon Iver though there's not as much ramshackle, handmade charm here to propel Ekko to similar success.

On It's Only You with its bassy strut and Ekko's falsetto there's a distinct hint of The Cure at their romantic-poppiest, it's a surreal love song with an atmosphere of squeaking guitars and other twinkly pops and hoots. Closing track I Love You (I Always Have) has a classical pop sound, again in the Rufus Wainwright mold, with Ekko throwing in grand drums and a glittery backdrop of sounds to compliment the theatrical gesture of the song. There are Frog Song-sounding backing vocals and Ekko shows off his impressive vocal skill inbetween the direct chorus of 'I love you!'

There's a certain sincerity to the straight-forward statements and simple lyricism of Mikky Ekko's songs that stops them from becoming saccahrine, sicky or mawkish, and this is aided by his instrumentation which often propels the fantastical and magical aspects of his simple subjects to the fore. This EP is different and charming and whilst it doesn't quite get you to stand up and applaud Mikky Ekko it is a great trumpet call heralding the arrival of a considerable talent.