Egyptian/Canadian nonbinary artist, Elko, has released their new EP, PAINKILLER TWILIGHT. The album was written during quarantine, reflected in the overall theme of disillusionment that permeates through PAINKILLER TWILIGHT. The lead single “Dishonest” is accompanied by a music video shot by Cincinnati media outlet, Soul Serum.
Growing up in a Muslim household under parents who immigrated to Canada from Egypt, Elko has always played the role of misfit, and their artistry is an extension of that disposition. Elko says,
“As a kid I wasn’t allowed to express myself in so many ways, my sense of self had been really distorted. A few years ago, I moved to Toronto and things started to change, but there were a lot of growing pains. Painkiller Twilight is in many ways a narration of things I went through figuring out how to not feel disconnected all the time. It’s about still pushing through and exploring identity after being fucked up by life”.
PAINKILLER TWILIGHT has eight tracks: Fall Apart, Dishonest, Selfish, Pretty Little Lies, Kicked Me Out (ft. SuziWithAnUzi), Common, and I’m A Mess (ft. BadMoodRude). All eight songs are a perfect representation of Gen Z music—pairing gut-wrenchingly raw lyrics with a sound that defies genre. The EP is a modern fusion of alternative, indie, abrasive electronic, and synth-driven bedroom pop. His sound reminds me of artists like blackbear, Ansel Elgort, and Juice WRLD.
I love everything about PAINKILLER TWILIGHT—listening to this album makes me wish I was an angsty teen in a toxic relationship. I thoroughly appreciate artists who bare their soul to the world through their music, and this is exactly what Elko does. “Selfish” opens with the lyrics “smoking cigarettes to feel something, daddy issues don’t mean nothing, tell myself that he means nothing, who am I kidding?”. Every track is a deep self-reflection into Elko’s own psyche that makes it incredibly easy to relate to them. If I had to pick, my favourite song is “Kick Me Out”. Elko’s use of autotune and SuziWithAnUzi’s haunting vocals give me chills.
That being said, I was not a huge fan of the music video for “Dishonest”, which features Elko getting out of bed, dancing in their room, and walking through their neighborhood. Again, the video is very representative of the Gen Z take on music videos—the low-budget, recorded on an old video camera look. Maybe I much prefer Elko’s music video for “Fall Apart”, probably because it follows the typical music video format that I grew up with (does that make me sound old?). This video features Elko driving to a party, singing to their disappearing love interest in the passenger’s seat. Cut with selfie-footage of a party and risqué scenes with the love interest, the video for “Fall Apart” feels like a classic music video that fits the vibe of the song perfectly.
Overall, PAINKILLER TWILIGHT is “fire”, as the kids would say.