Now that we are close to finishing 2021, the classic holiday songs like Miariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and the new Christmas releases like Ed Sheeran’s collab with Elton John on “Merry Christmas” are certainly dominating the musical spaces everywhere; not to mention Adele’s newest album 30, which has been on top of the charts for the past few weeks. However, sticking out from all the holiday noise comes a freshly put together non-Christmas EP by one of the newest and most exciting voices in LA’s pop scene. Twenty-one-year-old David Hugo has just released his new project How to Love Other People, 15 minutes of straight-up post-teen-pop with funky beats, organic elements, and most importantly, loads of self-awareness and relatability.
In the six-track body of work, Hugo continues to surprise with danceable catchy tunes produced and co-written with the likes of Jordan Palmer (Khalid, Carly Rae Jepsen, Drax Project), Grant Sayler (Sueco the Child, Charlie XCX, John K), Jbach (Chainsmokers, Daya), Jake Torrey (Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Liam Payne), and many others. The almost euphorically sad tunes rely on the playfulness of contradiction while keeping innocence, self-concession, and raw honesty contrasted by happy and cheerful melodies as main focus giving listeners a run for their money.
Opening the project comes “Die Right Here,” a modern pop-funk song that will immediately have you dancing around your room. With vulnerability at its forefront, Hugo channels his inner Harry Styles while confessing his feelings for a girl in the most modern hopelessly romantic fashion.
Following the vulnerability thread, he then introduces “Lying to Myself.” Based on a conversation with himself in front of the mirror, the track sees how Hugo poetically confronts his thoughts about missing someone. The beautifully organic production of the song lays the groundwork for very soothing vocals that can certainly cut through as he explains a certain person was “an act too hard to follow up.”
The energy of throughout the EP never drops, with vibrant beats and enticing melodies guaranteeing all the songs will get stuck in your head. However, “Hot Mess” is certainly the epitome of catchiness. In the track, Hugo certainly seems to let loose while having fun with sexier lyrics that describe the fun and chaotic vibe of his life. With a certain level of sophistication that only he can bring to the table, he speaks to the listener inviting them to join as he says, “If you mess with me you gotta be a mess with me,” to which we happily oblige.
“Ambition,” one of the best tracks on the EP and a personal favorite, brings us back to one of the young artist’s previous singles “we made it.” Not only does it carry a message of encouragement, but it’s a song that calls you out in one of the nicest ways possible. Starting with a rather innocent tone, the track unravels and grows into a delightful pop banger with a strong hook. The beautiful and simple melody carries you throughout the song as Hugo sings, “I see your potential / why you’re so damn special,” and finally culminates in a call for action as he shouts, “I think I know exactly what you’re missing, ambition.”
After this, the star in the making pulls from influences like Shawn Mendes and Isaac Dunbar to present “Exception.” Bringing back the funky vibes, Hugo sings, “I have no intention of learning my lesson cuz you’re my exception,” referring to someone he wouldn’t mind throwing out his own rules for. Maintaining the relatable intentions of his music, the artist cleverly evokes something that many of us have faced in our lives, the eternal friends-with-benefits situationship, adding some spice to his poetic lyricism.
To wrap up everything nicely, Hugo sings off with the title track “How to Love Other People.” Again coming through with the self-confessional touch, in the track, the singer/songwriter admits to himself and his listeners he is not ready to move on from a love that seems quite fresh in his mind. As he comes to terms with the fact that he needs more time, he also wonders how he will be able to love someone else with the same devotion he once had for that person. At the same time as he seeks closure for himself, he provides us with closure and the chance of wondering where David Hugo’s story is heading to next.