At the ripe, young age of 18, solo artist Noel Aponte has just come out with a new EP called Bittersweet. This scintillating blend of synthwave and bedroom R&B was the result of a longtime collaboration with his producer friend, Isaac Luther. Aponte and Luther’s special bond formed years after Aponte’s hometown in Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and has continued all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as well. If anything, these five new tracks are all genre-blurring gems that show off a unique ability to create and sing highly personal lyrics.
“I’ll be Dancing” kicks off the EP, arriving on the heels of gauzy synths and pads lifted straight from the ‘80s. It then twists into a danceable new wave drum machine beat. Most impressive of all with this song is how Aponte contorts the pitch and the tempo into something much slower, then gradually reverts it back to its original form. It’s a good gimmick, reminiscent of a particular part in “The Rockafeller Skank” by Fatboy Slim, and Aponte nails its execution as I expected.
At the heart of “Fleeting Love,” lies Aponte’s yearning vocal hook, a beacon of emotion that guides the listener through the labyrinth of feelings. With a touch so delicate, it evokes a sense of longing and nostalgia, as if capturing the essence of fleeting moments suspended in time.
The rhythmic foundation, built upon blocky drum machine beats and a deep bass riff, serves as a pulsating heartbeat throughout the album. Each beat resonates with the throbbing emotions that drip like honey, infusing the songs with an intoxicating depth of sentiment. The beauty of “Fleeting Love” lies in its unadorned and genuine expression of raw emotion. It paints a canvas of love, where passions flow freely and emotions find their voice. The album is a prism of feelings, each track an eloquent expression of love’s myriad facets, evoking joy, heartache, and everything in between.
“Serene (Interlude),” contains a soothing melody that gently caresses the soul. This interlude, like a gentle breeze on a warm summer’s day, transports the listener to a state of tranquility and peace. With each note, it weaves a tapestry of serenity, inviting one to get lost in its tranquil embrace. And then, there it was, “Still Love You,” a song that struck me with its unyielding sincerity. Like a heartfelt confession, it leaves no doubt about the depth of emotions it carries. The fusion of buttery percussion and sparkling synths creates a magical aura, while the piano dances gracefully, adding an elegant touch to the composition. It’s a slow-dance number that lures you into its embrace, compelling you to sway with the rhythm and surrender to the sentiments it evokes. Last of all, “I don’t see you in my Dreams” ditches percussion for a more ambient approach. It succeeds, and the lyrical storyline encapsulates everything so deeply depressing about Aponte’s debut EP.
Depending on how emotional you are, you may have a hard time listening to this if you’ve recently been through a rough breakup, since that appears to be Aponte’s modus operandi. However, looking past all the hardships in favor of pursuing dreams and other love interests ultimately wins over the suffering, so please listen to Noel Aponte’s cathartic new EP, Bittersweet. You owe it to yourself to hear this music.