by Rish Hanco
Carlo Capobianco’s debut full-length album, Pray To You (released April 20th), is a carefully curated collection of pop ballads sure to make you swoon and dance. The album shines with all the glamour and grandeur of pop, breaking down at times into something grittier and heavier. Likewise, the album’s themes of innocent infatuation and self-deprecating obsession weave together into high highs and low lows.
The first track, “Call You Sometime,” introduces the theme of innocence. The feelings brought on by a fresh crush are playful and sweet. The opening lines express this sweetness in an almost childlike way: “You smell like baby powder and strawberries in the summer.” The song sounds like sunshine.
This beautiful mirage of love is quickly shattered as the next songs on the album bring forth the obsession and the self-deprecation that comes from loving one who is inattentive and unattainable. The concept of love as a “Mermaid” betrays a sense that this recipient of one’s love is only a myth, a wishful dream, something fleeting (‘mermaid, don’t you go away’). The song dissolves into layers of fuzz and vocals that create an atmosphere of strangeness, of something otherworldly.
There is a feeling of discord, an internal struggle which is articulated in lines like ‘Jesus wants me pure, but I can’t be so sure, I look into the mirror, and see myself a whore,’ (“Pray To You”) and ‘you gotta dance with the devil, to get into heaven’ (“Dance With The Devil”). The idea of subjecting yourself to a person’s toxicity in exchange for one glimmering moment of satisfaction and affection is all too relatable.
Despite the tragic subject matter of a love lost and unreciprocated, the album as a whole is buoyant and playful. Glittering synths lay the foundation for pop, with cheeky, energetic bass lines slipping in and out and drums that beat along in time and amplify the grandeur of the album as one congruous piece. That playful pop sound permeating the album lends well to those moments where a song breaks down, those gritty rock elements shining through and lending an earnestness that hits the album’s subject matter home.