Hot-on-the-heels of his pulsing electro pop anthem “One Way Ticket”, Robert O’Connor has revealed there’s plenty more where that came from, with his new EP ‘Severance’ set for release on October 7 across streaming and download outlets.
The 8-track opus is the follow-up to Robert’s 2020 EP ‘Transcendence’, which was hailed “a pop masterpiece” by RGM magazine, while Talk About Pop Music said the record was “an accomplished collection of songs, worthy of being heard by a wider audience”.
‘Severance’ sees Robert step into the big leagues, working with Gareth Shortland (Steps, Erasure) and Richey McCourt (Aimée, Erica Cody) to create a collection of songs that are laser-focused, both sonically and lyrically.
Loosely documenting a relationship beginning-to-end, the record kicks-off with a pounding heartbeat which increases in tempo until it transitions into “Save You”, a thundering trance track that bears resemblance to early ‘00s acts Chicane and Sash!
“Save You” became listeners’ first taste of the project when it was released as a single in June 2021, also becoming the first of three consecutive #2 hits on the LGBTQ Music Chart.
The hopeful tone of the opening track quickly dissolves to one of despair on “Separate Ways”, where Moloko-esque ominous synths underscore a more serious message as Robert sings: “You put those walls up/and I just can’t climb them, so I look from behind/and still I see something’s up”.
Speaking about his inspiration for the EP, Robert says: “I grew up in the ‘90s religiously collecting and analysing the music of the NOW! Dance Compilation albums, and this record reflects that sonically. The music you consume as a child and a teen stays with you always”.
He continues: “Lyrically, it’s almost conceptual, looking at how the past few turbulent years in the world have seen us sever ties in our lives – from friendships to relationships and even professionally. We’ve had time to think ‘is this what I want for my life’?”
That very line is one of the many hooks in “One Way Ticket”, a boisterous pop banger that embodies the energy of peak Pet Shop Boys and Bronski Beat, and is the jewel in the crown of ‘Severance’. “It’s the song I’ve always wanted to write, and for that reason it was the most joyous recording experience of my life”, Robert says.
Elsewhere, Scandinavian influence is evident on the delicately wistful “Been & Gone”, which tells the tale of infidelity in a relationship, while not exactly apologising for it: “I know I’m the one in the wrong/but you know I never belonged”, Robert sings above a bed of bouncy ABBA-inspired synths.
Closing track “The Last Time”, a reimagining of the 1987 Agnetha Fältskog ballad, which is complete with a key-change and extended outro, sends the listener off with a sense that while this might be the end of a record about endings, it could be just the beginning for Robert O’Connor.
'Severance' hits streaming & download services on October 7.