Ears Wide Open: John Errol

John Errol (Photo by Lili Peper)

Singer-songwriter and producer John Errol wants you to have it all, and all at once: the harsh and pretty, the bombastic and tender, the foreboding and the whimsical.

Errol — full name, John Errol Bilgin, who played with Liza Thorn and Matthew Koshak in the L.A.-birthed band Starred during his days in Brooklyn — will release his debut album on May 28 via Flexible Distribution/Terrible Records. It’s titled “Inferno,” but what’s burning? Plenty, and fueling the fires with a pastiche of hyper-’80s pop, industrial rock and sample-addled experimentalism, it makes for pretty grand theater.

On his latest single, “Knock Knock,” relationship bitterness lights the torch and huge percussion fans the flames. “I wanted to write a classic breakup song that you could blast in the car, driving around Los Angeles with the windows rolled down,” Errol says. “I had this inexplicable chorus that I didn’t know what to do with for the longest time. My ex really loved the demo for some reason. And out of spite, I decided to finish it once we broke up and filled in the lyrics with vignettes from our relationship — gaslighting, toxic masculinity, betrayal and all. It was alarming how childish I felt and how seismic the tantrum of writing this song was. Basically, the song is about a relationship that is failing.”

The material on “Inferno” dates to 2018, and the song “Dead Man Walking,” a pretty dark five minutes (especially the last two) from a guy in a cowboy hat. It’s a stark contrast to the lead track on the album, “Run Wild,” a popgazer whose inviting propulsiveness welcomes you to the world of an artist seemingly always in motion … even as, Errol warns in the spoken interlude, “A vulture, he looms, he waits / Until you’ve gone too far / Then he eats your flesh / And he keeps your heart locked in cylinders of skull.”

||| Stream: “Knock Knock”

||| Also: Watch the video for “Sometimes”

||| Also: Stream “Run Wild” and “Dead Man Walking”