Aquilo, the English duo that debuted at Glastonbury three years ago, has finally release their debut album. Formed by vocalist Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher, the duo originally from Silverdale (Lancashire) have been releasing EPs and gaining popularity by playing alongside Oh Wonder at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London as well by being featured on BBC Radio 1’s playlist.
The duo started in Lake District as rivals playing for two different rock bands but decided to start working together and formed Aquilo, the perfect combination of the indie and dream pop that combined in their debut album, Silhouettes. Silhouettes has been released through Island Records.
The album has been recorded in the span of two years, and it describes the journey of the duo; the personal album is based on their environment and their personal experience, which creates an intimate album that connects the duo to their audience on a whole new level.
“Silhouette” is the opening song of the album. The single had been previously released on March 31, 2016. The song is a strong opening, with the melody starting softly and turning more powerful, with the violin playing in the background adding to the feeling of longing in the song.
The powerful vocals, backed down by the heart wrenching backing vocals which is featured multiple times in the album, completely match the deep lyrics, as Higham sings:
“Just hold me; the devils on your shoulder, strangers in your head as if you don’t remember, as if you can forget/it’s only been a moment, it’s only been a lifetime; but tonight you’re a stranger, or some silhouette”. “Silhouette” perfectly embraces the kind of theme and powerful vocals which will feature within the rest of the album.
“Blindside” is the highlight of this album, with the melancholic, simple melody that proves the duo doesn’t need much in order to create an amazing, simple ballad. The main character of this song is the stripped down piano and the rough vocals, as a beat and atmosphere is added during the first chorus before slowing back down.
The chorus is where the melody really turns into a strong chilling mix of need and urgency. The theme of the song is not only love, is the need to be loved and have someone there, even if you don’t really love that someone.
“Never Hurt Again” adds in a bit of happiness, as it includes use of synths and a fast pacing beat that gives a break from the previous songs that have taken the heart of the listener and broken it into small little pieces. This song is quite different from the rest of the album, with almost an uncharacteristic style, but that still matches the same theme of trying to figure out yourself while being young and in a relationship.
Silhouttes is the perfect mix of strings and synths to emphasise the real talent of the duo: the lyrics. The album is melancholic, mostly indie, with lots of acoustic piano and orchestra, rough vocals that hit just the right spot. Aquilo know how to play with the emotions of their listeners, and although their style sometimes lack that little something to set them apart from similar artists like HONNE, their lyrics never fail to amaze the listener.
Although the major themes are love, loss and relationships, the songs never sound the same as there are always subtle shifts to match the deep lyrics used by the duo. Just like “Gave It All”, which starts with only the piano and vocals and slowly builds with angelic background vocals to increase the emotional grip of the song.
It is interesting to see how the sound becomes more optimistic as the lyrics become darker, showing how the duo can play with different styles and still be able to have deep, poetic lyrics. For a debut album, Silhouettes is a great start for Aquilo to start building their fame as an accomplished duo that could take over other English duos.
If you have just gone through a break up, it might be the perfect album. No more Adele for our heartbroken days, now just Aquilo with their debut album, Silhouettes, to mend our broken hearts. Aquilo’s Silhouettes can be bought on iTunes here.
Words by Martina Di Gregorio