As Spring Break depressingly came to a close, I realized that my cheerful and upbeat playlists just weren’t doing it for me anymore. With the return to school and the unhealthy number of essays I had looming over my head, I went on the hunt for a more appropriate sound. This long and winding road led me straight to LÉON.
Self-proclaimed as “indie-pop/soul/whatever,” LÉON was born and raised in Stockholm. Born into an extremely musical family, her mother is a symphony cellist and her father is a conductor/composer. While music has always been a large part of LÉON’s life, her debut EP, Treasure, wasn’t released until recently, on Dec. 3, 2015. The most popular song, “Tired of Talking,” received widespread success and currently sits with just under 16 million streams on Spotify.
The opening track, aptly named “Treasure,” starts us off with a dense drumbeat and sensual, heavy breathing before introducing LÉON’s vocals. It combines electronica elements like soundboards and artificial background vocals with LÉON’s original, unedited voice. With unusual sounds of chains and clicks, she speaks of lost love and defeat, singing, “All of the times that you fucked my head / Go and do it with another instead.” It’s a strong start to the EP and begins a story that LÉON continues throughout the piece.
“Tired of Talking” begins slowly, showcasing LÉON’s vocals with background snaps and electric guitar riffs. One of my favorite musical elements of the EP comes right after the chorus, when the sweet whistling moves to the forefront. It’s simple and used sparingly, but adds just the right amount of sentiment to an otherwise quick-witted song. LÉON sings, “I’ve been nothing but good to you / Your howling into the night won’t do,” focusing on moving on from a past love and rebuilding again.
Bringing in a more electronic vibe, “Nobody Cares” deals with mistakes and running away. In the most cynical song on the EP, LÉON brings her narrative of being wronged full circle when she sings, “Nobody cares about us / Guess you can know that I still do.” With more echoes and fewer traditional instruments, the bridge sounds subdued and muted, like the listener is getting into LÉON’s mind.
“LÉON’s Lullaby,” my personal favorite track, slows things down and shows off LÉON’s vocal range. It’s simple and mature, with just her electric guitar and soothing vocals. She sings, “My friend / Take me to a place I know that I have never been before / My love / You take me to the place I’ve only heard of.” The song is a longing, powerful and deeply personal account of asking someone to stay. While the chorus is bluesy and soulful, laced with desperation, the bridge plays with distorted and darker instruments to create an ethereal piano and circus-like sound. It’s a poignant and elusive way to end the EP, leaving the listener with the feeling that something is not quite right and not quite finished.
LÉON may be most well-known for “Tired of Talking,” but Treasure has some hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. With a consistent storyline and experimental techniques, LÉON’s EP is just the beginning of her journey.