Chicano singer-songwriter Omar Apollo’s “Friends,” out today, is the first track from his forthcoming sophomore EP. It’s a gentle, acoustic tale about getting friendzoned that’s worth noting: not only is it a departure from the soulful R&B of last year’s Stereo, but the track explores that familiar narrative in a healthy way.
The very idea of the friend zone makes a black-and-white definition of who is to blame: The person who doesn’t want you romantically is the one who makes you suffer, and thus it is their fault, not yours. But on “Friends,” Omar Apollo claims some responsibility in this situation of love unrequited.
“I know I thought that we could be friends,” he offers. Omar Apollo then moves into acceptance, and the consciousness of the future (rather than a bitterness for his present): “I’m older now, but I’m still young, and I got many, oh, many, years to come.”
Save for brief but lush moments of manipulated electronic flourishes, “Friends” is generally bare, with sparse acoustic strumming accompanying Omar Apollo’s tender delivery. Like poetic pentameter, silky, short falsettos emphasize particularly telling phrases: he “can’t pretend,” and wonders if he’s “the only one afraid to make a move,” and “I’m getting used to this.” Omar Apollo offers a thoughtful contemplation on a situation that for some, can spark a harsh, toxic reaction.
The acoustic guitar was a major part of Omar Apollo’s musical upbringing; between his tío, church, and YouTube, he taught himself to play. And while “Friends” marks a return to those bedrock roots, it isn’t an end-all, be-all indicator of the general vibe of his follow-up EP, out April 10.
Instead, ”Friends” could serve as a reminder to look deeper into what he’ll deliver lyrically; Omar Apollo gives us easy access to that in this straightforward track, but in the danceable grooves and more texturally layered tracks to come on the rest of the Friends EP, we’ll have to actively remember to find the messages within.
Stream the track below, and keep an eye out for the full EP on April 10.