The Bad Penny Review: Tayo Sound’s Runaway

Tayo Oyekan, stage name Tayo Sound, is an up-and-coming act from the UK who has made his mark with a charming, frank and slickly produced five-track debut EP entitled ‘Runaway’, produced by Courage. Despite his age, 18-year old Oyekan has already been playing his craft for years, having quit school at 16 to busk full-time in his hometown of Reading, and began writing music when he was 9, penning his first single ‘Broken’ when he was just 14. He has already demonstrated great skill in songwriting and music production and is an act that will surely continue his upward trajectory in the UK and international music scene.

The project begins with lead single, “Cold Feet”, released in June last year, and sets the overall tone for the project both narratively and sonically. The track is a groovy slice of sophisticated pop, detailing the story of the artist’s first relationship and the conflicting emotions that went with it. Funky clipped guitar and full-toned drums form the base of the song, while smooth bursts of synth punctuate the melody, creating the kind of hypnotic groove that will have you instantly swaying to the beat.

From quiet beginnings the excellent “Someone New” continues to build layers of instrumentation and vocal harmony to great effect. Oyekan’s delivery is the cornerstone of the track, the melody using a tight rhythm that propels the song forward, to head-banging effect. Sweeping waves of synth and killer bass lines all fall away during the breakdown in the latter half of the song. Leaving the strong vocal performance and breezy backing vocals to stand up on their own, before building towards a somehow melancholy yet joyous finale.

“Gone” is a blissfully chilltrack with its roots in low-fi and DIY music. “I swear, I feel you everywhere, like a whisper in the air, oh, please” coos the gentle melody line, with weighty drums and gentle finger-picked guitar driving the track. Expansive synths are used sparingly throughout and release the tension created by Oyekan’s soft bouncing vocals and musical breaks, giving the song plenty of punch.

The title track “Runaway” further displays Oyekan’s pop sensibilities with relentlessly catchy melodies, smooth bass and dainty synths and percussion. The lyrics depict a young relationship in a tailspin, “If we pretend, then we’ll be fine for a couple days/Until a couple more fights before I lose you”, he laments as the track mesmerises with sunny guitar riffs and shimmering layers of bright production.

Closing the EP is the tumultuous “Heartbreaker”, a short track based around percussive instrumentation and vocals. The actual drums sit further back in the mix than the other tracks, being mostly absent in the verses, while Oyekan lets loose a prolonged refrain in the chorus. During the track Oyekan questions the titular ‘heartbreaker’ asking finally “Are you mine or are you gone?”, leaving the resolution unclear to the listener.

Overall the project is a fine collection of tracks that demonstrate Oyekan’s musicianship and songwriting skill. The EP is full of moments of uncertainty and inner doubt that accompanies early relationships. Oyekan chooses not to hide from these moments, instead presenting what feels like a true rendition of his feelings at the time. The narrow thematic focus allows the songs space to breathe while the lyrics show us conflicting feelings and seek to create a complex emotional portrait of the relationship at its core.

Now available to borrow from the Rory Gallagher Music Library and to stream and download on Freegal, using your library membership:

By John Hayes