Cryalot reaches for the sun in ‘Icarus’
“Why do we dream if we only believe in this?” This is the question Sarah Midori Perry asks in “Labyrinth,” one of songs on her debut EP under the moniker of Cryalot. Her first major project outside the synthpop band Kero Kero Bonito, “Icarus” treads darker territory than fans may be used to.
I found the placement of opener “Touch the Sun” strange at first. Its hopeful and optimistic lyrics feel more like a resolution meant to be at the end of a project. The sequencing of “Icarus” becomes more unusual with the third track, “Hell Is Here.” In easily the most oppressive song of the track list, industrial production provides backing for Perry’s guttural growls and violent lyrics. At this point in the EP, it feels like Perry is on a downward spiral.
Thankfully, the final two songs tie everything together. Returning to the question that “Labyrinth” asks, the central theme of “Icarus” is revealed. You already know the answer. Even if life can feel dull or hopeless, we know in our hearts that things can get better. That is why we dream.
The final track, “See You Again,” resolves any confusion over song placement. With spoken word passages in Japanese and sung vocals in English, Perry makes it clear that the story told in this EP has no defined beginning or end. It is a never-ending tale of hope, a reflection of the human spirit. She sends us off with a goodbye, closing out “Icarus” with a beautiful outro.
Unfortunately, my thoughts on “Icarus” are not all positive. If anything, I wish Perry aimed closer to the sun. The cyclical story this project tells is unique, but the revelation in “Labyrinth” hardly feels earned. The themes Perry explores could certainly be more fleshed out. However, these issues do not stop “Icarus” from being a strong solo debut with a fresh concept.
Cryalot’s “Icarus” is a refreshing glimpse of new electronic pop
Cryalot is Sarah Midori Perry’s new electronic pop project; she has given us “Icarus” as an exciting first look into her solo sound. As the lead singer of innovative pop group Kero Kero Bonito, it comes as no surprise that this album is packed full of electronic soundscapes and interesting quirks that are often tied to the sound. This EP is a conceptual masterpiece based around the story of Icarus to bolster its main themes.
The first track, “Touch the Sun,” instantly transports the listener into an ethereal atmosphere. It has a classic electronic pop sound with happy vocals and large, warm basses. These components, combined with its hyperpop feel, are reminiscent of SOPHIE’s timeless sound. The vocals and upbeat mood paint a picture of hope and determination, which is tied to Icarus’s confidence and ignorance as he disregards guidance and soars higher.
The first track ends with a seamless transition into the second track, “Hurt Me.” It carries a very similar sound to the previous track, but with a more melancholic feel. Thematically, there is still a sense of perseverance, but only after having gone through intense hardship. Perry brings another catchy chorus here amidst cute, carefree synths and a stellar guitar solo.
“Hell is Here” is a major switch in the EP. It is a dark track with haunting vocal melodies and gravelly synthwork, even including metal-esque backing vocals. The lyrical meaning switches to encapsulate pain and intense hardship, especially due to internal battles fought alone. Once again, the production seems inspired by SOPHIE, but the overall sound is slightly flat. Especially as the atmospheric “odd one out,” harsher sound design and more intense percussive elements would have made this track more powerful.
The concluding tracks on this album are a must-listen. “Labyrinth” has a majestic chorus with an interesting reflection on the story of Icarus. The lyrics delve into wondering about the purpose of dreaming, and the question of whether we can truly believe what we dream about. Porter Robinson’s influences can also be detected through glitchy and pitch-modified vocal chops. “See You Again” takes you on a fantastical and majestic conclusion to this concept, and Perry (who is half Japanese) includes several spoken Japanese stanzas throughout it. Sonically and lyrically, this track feels like the end of a movie.
This EP is a promising look at what could be the future of electronic pop and hyperpop. Perry’s powerful lyrics convey her themes well. While not perfect, the production is both reminiscent of electronic legends as well as unique in its own right. As an EP, this album is understandably short, but a more full-length album could have allowed for more conceptual expansion. “Icarus” leaves me wanting more, and I am looking forward to hearing the continuation and evolution of Cryalot’s sound.