Jul 20 2014

Mio Soul – Subliminal Melody (Review)

Subliminal Melody
Mio Soul

Review by Jen Wang


The challenge was simple: for 52 weeks, Mio Soul sat in a Starbucks with half an hour to create new beats. The result was anything but. Subliminal Melody takes some of the products of her coffeehouse exercise and expands them into full-fledged electronic pieces. Although this is a departure from her R&B debut, In My Skin, it’s an impressive addition to her discography, proving that she is as much a producer as she is a singer.

Opening up with the calm “Digital Love Letters”, Subliminal Melody initially comes across as an ambient album. However, several of the songs, including “Boost Me Up” and “These 3 Words”, veer into dance territory with their quick tempo and heavy percussion. They’re too strong to be simply background music but great additions to a house party mix.

Despite being mostly instrumental, Mio’s strong point is still her voice. They take the melody to a new level, either enhancing or altering the mood. Angelic voices haunt “Let It Go Let Me Flow” while “My Telephone Number” would not have the same flirtatiousness without the singing. “These 3 Words” sounds the most familiar with her smooth R&B vocals; it could have been a track off In My Skin.

With the freedom to explore, Mio skillfully layers multiple motifs and combines different tones. “Love on Mars” is a hybrid of classical and electronica with a digital portion that evokes the memory of 8-bit games. The keyboard in “Blind 77″ gives it a jazzy touch that brings attention to her experimentation with different rhythms.

The only drawback to Subliminal Melody is that it leaves listeners desiring for me. Some songs end abruptly or in the case of “What Kind of Man”, never reaches a climax. Mio teases with her singing of brief phrases and her lyric-less vocals. Even the title of the final track, “New Beginning”, suggests that there is more to come. Not only that, it declares an evolution—one that has been recorded in Subliminal Melody. If fans are not already eager for more, they will be by the end of the album.