An album that's recently captured my ears and attention is Dark Corners and Alchemy, the new full-length release from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter mehro. It was just a few years ago, during the early days of the pandemic, when this talented young musician dropped some of his first compositions. I first discovered and fell in love with mehro's music when I heard "Chance With You," a song from his debut EP, Sky On Fire, that was featured in an episode of the Hulu TV series, Love, Victor.
mehro's delicate and distinct style of brooding, heartfelt bedroom pop is one that profoundly resonates with listeners. Poignant and contemporary lyrical themes are enveloped in a "less-is-more," dreamy production, with a prevalence of acoustic fingerstyle accompaniment and mehro's hypnotic, inspiring, and edgy vocal delivery. After just a few listens, the tracks of Dark Corners and Alchemy feel like songs you've known all your life.
Conceptually, Dark Corners and Alchemy is a work in two parts. The first half of the album encompasses the "dark corners" theme with a lyrical focus on one's emotional struggles and pain.
Bright, gentle fingerstyle acoustic guitar introduces "Howling," the album's twilight-like opening track. "Like You're God" picks up the pace, simply driven by a pulsing bass string of a guitar that gradually builds as the song progresses. "Pirate Song" is brooding, slower-paced but builds to a fingersnapping climax. "Exploding" bursts with its charged, electric chorus, while the tender, acoustic "Who are you" seems to distantly channel sonic elements of Eagles ("Hotel California").
The atmospheric and myterious-sounding "Murmur" acts as the transitional song to the "alchemy" half of the album that transforms the pain into something constructive and inspiring.
"Whore," one of my favorite tracks on this album, opens up the "alchemy" set. If I had to pick one track to represent the essence of Dark Corners and Alchemy, it's this one. Not inlcuded in this post (due to its sensitive content), but I'd recommend watching the poignant accompanying music video for this track that calls attention to suicide prevention with the message that "you're not alone." "Princes of Melancholia" is a gorgeous 50's-style acoustic ballad featuring mehro's soft, falsetto vocals. A few listens to this and you'll find yourself singing along to this ("Me amás co... Me amás como te amo").
Channeling the likes of His Name Is Alive and Ásgeir, the acoustic "Parasite" follows with its lovely touch of added strings. "Pretty Kids" is the standout upbeat, catchy pop song of the album, a song that landed on our Top Tracks of 2022. The upbeat, finger-snapping "Monster" is followed by the gorgeous closing track, "Love Kills," one of my favorite songs on this album, with an introductory acoustic guitar riff that's a dead-ringer for "Threnody," from Frida (ABBA).
If you like what you hear, I'd highly recommend checking out mehro's debut EP, Sky On Fire. And if you find yourself at home with nothing to do on a Friday night, be sure to tune into mehro's weekly "Alone on a Friday Night" livestream on Instagram, where mehro performs live acoustic versions of his songs and engages with fans who are tuned in.