Omar Apollo – God Said No

A benchmark from the R&B creative...

Singer-songwriter Omar Apollo explores grief and heartbreak in a unique and experimental way on his second studio album, ‘God Said No’. Dubbed by Apollo as a “reflection of his life over the past two years”, the record is evidently a cathartic release which makes for a gripping listen. 

Having risen to fame with ‘Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)’ and owning a cohesive discography featuring collaborations with Dominic Fike and Daniel Caesar, Apollo explores many sub-genres within the R&B and bedroom-pop scene on ‘God Said No’. At first glance, it’s a mellower record from the singer with running themes of heartbreak in ‘Be Careful With Me’, ‘Done With You’ and ‘Life’s Unfair’, but it’s still peppered with self-confident tracks playing into trap and R&B, such as ‘Against Me’.

This range is what makes the record interesting in a saturated market, but what stands out the most is the visual aspect of the album which starkly and beautifully displays the vulnerability Apollo shows on these tracks. Apollo takes the listener to a mature beachfront conversation on ‘Be Careful With Me’, a holiday island on ‘Done With You’, and to an otherworldly dimension with echoed vocals and experimental production on ‘How’. Seamless transitions between tracks, like  ‘Less of You’ and ‘Done With You’, enhance the world-building, enhancing the cinematic feel.

While these tracks are gripping visually and often upbeat (cue ‘Done With You’), the stories they tell are raw and vulnerable. ‘Drifting’ discusses a desire to escape to “a place where the sun never goes out,” and ‘Glow’ delves into heartbreak amidst an ethereal synth, string and piano backing to close the album in a fitting way. Credit goes to Apollo and his supple vocal range, his powerful belting controlled throughout;  ‘While U Can’ sees him reaching for a higher register, while autotuned sheen is employed on ‘Less of You’.

Collaboration choices on ‘God Said No’ are noteworthy: Pedro Pascal makes a surprise feature on ‘Pedro’ to recount a raw and vulnerable story in the form of a voice note, where the protagonist falls to their knees and “asks a park bench to come alive and save me.” Mustafa features on ‘Plane Trees’, a stripped-back piano ballad where the rasp in the Toronto artist’s voice beautifully harmonises with Apollo’s smooth cadence. 

With the success of his previous albums, Apollo could have easily stayed in the mainstream bedroom-pop genre, but the vulnerability and experimentation displayed on this album makes for an impressive, mature step forward in his career.

8/10

Words: Amrit Virdi

Dig This? Dig Deeper: Daniel Caesar, Dominic Fike, Miguel

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