February 13, 2022 — When I first heard an artist named Primo the Alien was joining the retrowave scene, I fully envisioned a big-headed grey pushing out overly synthesized tracks that hid messages to some distant planet. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed when I realized this wasn’t the case — but that dismay waned as I dug into Primo’s discography.
A former American Idol contestant, Primo rose from the ashes of defeat to spread her sound across the synthpop and retrowave communities — and after an increasingly successful career that includes a nomination at the Austin Music Awards, she’s back with an album that I can only describe as a fitting tribute to the 1980s.
Heart on the Run (Deluxe Edition) dropped earlier this year as a follow-up to the 2021 release, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to dive into the eight-track album. As much as I wish I had been around to support Primo when the original four tracks were released, I’m not that upset that my introduction to Heart on the Run is an extended EP with double the music.
At the top of the album is ‘Do It Again’, a lovely track that’s a bit more danceable than I expected. It’s a slow start with steady and calm pacing, but then the chorus kicks in, and that running beat and snare take over. Try as you might to keep your body still, you can bet you won’t be able to resist tapping your foot or bobbing your head.
‘Bad Things’ has a more sinister sound, which is fitting for the track’s name. It’s not my favorite song on the album, but I appreciate how different it is from ‘Do It Again’ and the rest of the album. ‘Thunder” sort of brings us back to that signature 80s touch with another soothing track with a chorus that lets Primo’s voice work its magic rather than favor more powerful instruments. There’s an unexpected crescendo in the last quarter of the track that lands perfectly, especially considering as a contrast to the rest of the track’s softer sound.
The album’s namesake track, ‘Heart on the Run’, takes a bit to build up into something notable, but once it does, it’s a completely delightful sound that fits in well within the original quartet of tracks. What ‘Heart on the Run’ and the other tracks don’t do is prepare you for the bonus tracks, ‘Rock Professor’, ‘K.W.I.W.’, ‘The Top’, and ‘Intergalactic Gypsy’.
‘Rock Professor’ is a wild ride that lets Primo showcase her rock ‘n roll side. It still oozes the 80s, but the emphasis on guitar and rock sounds gives it energy not present on the original Heart on the Run EP. ‘K.W.I.W.’ tones the energy down quite a bit for something that’s borderline haunting. Though it sounds like it may be the weakest track on the EP, at about the two-minute mark, it kicks into full gear and has a little more quality oomph behind it.
Like ‘Rock Professor’, ‘The Top’ again deviates from the tone of the rest of the album. It’s a nice burst of energy, especially after ‘K.W.I.W.’, and really inspires listeners to get out there and strive for the top. The electrified audio and Primo’s determined vocals are stellar, and it’s possible that ‘The Top’ is the standout track of the new bonus songs, especially when compared to the much slower ‘Intergalactic Gypsy’.
Heart on the Run (Deluxe Edition) does enough to separate itself from the original EP, with four bonus tracks that expand upon Primo’s repertoire to keep listeners engaged and wanting more. While you may not want to listen to the full album over and over, there is definitely a good selection of tracks that you’ll have on repeat.
The full deluxe edition release of Heart on the Run is available on Spotify and Primo’s Bandcamp.