[10 November 2010]
Emil & Friends is something of a misnomer. Hailing from NYC-by-way-of-Boston, Emil Yves Hewitt is the driving force behind the eight-song EP Downed Economy. The “friends” come into the picture somewhat later, pitching in during Hewitt’s synthpop-powered live shows. Even the genre labeling of “synthpop” seems too stifling when discussing Emil & Friends’ song stylings. The sound could be more aptly described as a mash-up of funk, disco, electronica, pop, and even the poppier end of the ‘60s folk pool. In fact, Emil & Friends bears a striking sonic similarity to MGMT, sharing the same sort of eclectic merging of genres and blending of musical styles to create bubbling, pop pastiches. It’s little coincidence that the project is on MGMT’s former label, Cantora Records.
Hewitt’s solid sense of humor and irony is also present on songs such as “Josephine”, “Specialty Sandwich” and the EP’s title track, “Downed Economy”, noting the travails of being a starving artist these days (“I wanna make a mix tape / For my best friend’s label”). At times, his voice sounds masculine and at others, eerily feminine. He’s been behind many a mixtape and the reworking of songs before, but this is a solely solo effort. Although it’s just one man (and what Hewitt has jokingly termed his “multiple personalities”) tackling the songwriting, mixing, producing, and even art duties, at times, it is hard to tell if there really is more than one person pulling the entire party together.