LoveLeo is more than a viral sensation – he’s an artist who’s challenging the boundaries of what is expected from musicians and visual creators, alike. LoveLeo, actually named Leo Reilly (yes, yes, he is the son of John C. Reilly), grew up with a love of music and a habit of recording homemade songs. After years of practicing, studying fashion and gaining serious TikTok fame, Leo took a trip home to visit his childhood home at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, where he recorded his breakout hit, “BOYFREN.”
After releasing his viral track, his path to musical stardom was beyond clear. Now Leo has released his first-ever EP. LoveLeo’s debut EP, LOOK AT THIS MESS I’VE MADE, is a creative and colorful project that spins a scrambled story that is far more eclectic than it is a “mess.”
“RECENTLY DELETED” uses crackling and twinkling instrumentals to create a tender sound, paired with the constant repetition of playing a single piano key. This generates a raindrop sound, emphasizing the emotional state of the first track. This differs from his other tracks, which tend to be bold in sound. With echoey vocals and some light claps over the consistent instrumental layer, Leo gently sings, “I got pictures of you, trapped in my recently deleted/Memories of you, that I recently defeated/I kept a few (Just in case).” These lyrics work to partially explain the meaning of the song, as Leo tells the story of someone struggling to “delete” memories of someone. Whistling background noises sound like wind blowing, pairing with the rainy piano and allowing the listener to imagine one wistfully staring out the window, post-heartbreak.
“BOYFREN” is Leo’s most popular song, and was recorded while his mom and dad “were making chicken parm for dinner.” It became an internet sensation and launched him into massive musical popularity. The track is an intense presence post-“Recently Deleted.” Leo sassily demands that the subject of the track abandon their boyfriend, and instead be with him. Essentially a 2020 rendition of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” the track keeps its confidence even though it’s about a forbidden attraction. With a bouncy electronic background, Leo teases, “You should break up with your boyfriend/And get with me.” Listeners can hear the teasing grin behind the song.
“AHHHHHHH” is Leo’s take on punk. Heavy guitar, percussion and vocals fill the track like an overwhelming outburst. The recording style, vocals and beat all sound reminiscent of the modern punk scene in the Bay Area, which likely inspired Leo after his years studying fashion in San Francisco. Usually slightly snarky and self-assured, “AHHHHHHH” expresses the toxic side to Leo’s style. Sleigh Bells, a renowned noise-pop group, supplied guitar and backup on the track, adding some esteemed edge to the sound.
Leo shouts, “I’m so sad…But I barely show it…And I’m so mad…But you’ll never know it!”
HEAD OVER HEELS
The final and lead single that was released, “HEAD OVER HEELS” is a bouncy track. A bopping beat plays as Leo sings about falling for someone. Much lighter in sound and mood than the previous song, this is a song about being dazed with emotions but overcome by doubts Leo sings, “Ooh, is this how it feels?/Oh, you got me, got me, got me goin’ head over heels…All these doubts they just creep in my mind/Meaningless moments I take as a sign…”
“HEAD OVER HEELS” sounds the way Leo dresses – it’s quirky, colorful and reminds you of a combination of 70s and early 2000s in a strangely pleasant way.
“ROSIE” is actually a sequel to “BOYFREN.” The biggest difference in this song is that LoveLeo doesn’t just get jealous – he gets even. This track can be incredibly simple at times, and in other moments it is disorienting, with the audio seeming to take on a cloudy life of its own. That is the intention. Leo shared,“I recorded ‘Rosie’ in the same place as ‘BOYFREN,’” adding to the depth of the connection. “Rosie” is a war on one-sided romance. “Rosie” is a dark smile, plucking petals of the rose, one by one.
The source of the EP’s title, LOOK AT THIS MESS IVE MADE, the song “LEMONS” is about the things in life we simply do not like. Leo’s voice is slightly deeper on this song, with a slightly annoyed but amused tone, “Life just gives me lemons/And I don’t like lemonade/Sticky situation/Look at this mess I’ve made.”
“LEMONS” is about being handed lemons and being told to make lemonade, but knowing that’s not what you want.
Electronic beats and breathy vocals fill “BABYFREEZE.” The chorus is highly repetitive, but the sounds of the project intentionally distract from the meaning of the song, which is a continuation of the romantic ups and downs of the previous songs. A double entendre, the song is about being stuck emotionally (“baby, freeze”), but also a play on the name of the dance move – the baby freeze. Spinning, beeping and chiming instrumentals back Leo as he sings, “I don’t wanna waste time…Baby, freeze, yeah/Don’t make a move, yeah…”
A bonus track, “ROCKBOTTOM” is the most playful song on the EP (and that’s saying something). Booming bass and heavy synths play as Leo sings in a deep and distorted voice, “I’m the only one/In the club/Rock bottom,” referencing “LEMONS,” he continues, “It’s a sticky situation…” This helps to bring to life the “Russian DJ” character that Leo describes channeling on the EP. “ROCKBOTTOM” wraps up LOOK AT THIS MESS IVE MADE by telling a simply silly story, with lyrics that are just as humorous.
You can stream LOOK AT THIS MESS IVE MADE everywhere now!
Featured image courtesy of Republic Records, photos by Josh Flores