Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by P_Neda, Gareth Fernandez, YRFN, Disco Hue, Richard Jansen and BOYINSPACE below.
P_Neda – Red Lights
The red light is an excellent and emotionally powerful metaphor for alienation and other-ing. On his titular latest single, the young Singapore-based but not Singapore-born rapper P_Neda harnesses its visual resonance to give a full range of expression to how much he feels like an outsider in a lane that is life itself. Over a hazy, skeletal beat, he lets the listener in on how it feels to have to watch his back all the damn time, with full knowledge that he’ll never receive empathy because he ignores all of society’s red lights. But this isn’t a downer: The song’s arc is a triumphal one. By taking risks and getting that green, P_Neda resolves to be the champion of his lane.
Gareth Fernandez – '
Gareth Fernandez’s first single of 2019, while minimal, showcases the best that the singer has to offer. Set against low, rumbling bass, trap snares and the occasional “Skrrrrt!”, the true star of the track casts the strongest glow: Gareth’s smooth, boyish vocals. While the production value on the track is impeccable, it’s Gareth’s voice and charm that carry it – and that’s the mark of a truly confident and capable vocalist. His first single of 2019 may very well be his strongest release yet and serves as the perfect introductory track to anyone who has yet to hear any of his material.
BOYINSPACE – ‘in the night’
BOYINSPACE ventures where few in rap dare to go: The realm of completely exposing the vulnerability of feelings about relationships for the world to see.
Following the theme of his previous tracks, ‘in the night’ is bass-driven, with gentle, tingling synths. And the combination results in a hollowed-out vessel with ample room to flesh out the dense, heavy lyrics. He sings in a drone, with barely any inflection in his voice, as if to give a testimony to the numbing essence of the pain of love. It's well-thought out production that could either help to alleviate the hurt, make sense of it, or, both.
YRFN – '
Alt-R&B musician YRFN’s first track of the year mines heavily from the instrumentals of the OVO camp, particularly, Drake and Majid Jordan. It’s to his credit that he carves out his own style within the hypnotic pulse of the song. 'Confused' impressively builds upon the sounds of the previous tracks he released. It’s direct and catchy and the perfect kind of track to do just about anything to, from car rides to background music while you’re working through one of the million confused states we encounter in the experience of modern life.
Disco Hue – Can’t Be Mine (Stripped)
This is my favourite Disco Hue song. I’m protective of it. The marriage of funk, pop and soul that occurs in that track is sacred to the particular sense of nostalgia the band invokes as part of its sonic signature. But the band has reworked it and the verdict is instant and undeniable: ‘Can’t Be Mine’ 2.0 is awesome.
Where the original hinged on a dynamic of presenting a devastating narrative chronicling the agony of unrequited love via a kinetic payload of colouristic sounds, this new version honours the gravity of the message with a correspondingly sombre arrangement. Frontwoman Sherlyn Leo steps to the plate in her best-ever vocal performance and accompanied by only a gorgeous-but-mournful piano, she evokes the pain of rejection and the sting of its finality – “I don’t wanna do this no more if you can’t be mine”.
Richard Jansen – VIEWS ft. Xuede
Richard Jansen has a knack for choosing his collaborators and it’s evident on his 2018 LP, Yours Truly. The delicately balanced soul and pop inflected ‘My Type’ with Zac Tabudlo, the addition of the riffs of the upper end of the piano spectrum on ‘Youngin’ with Shino and the upbeat, gospel inspired ‘Pray’ with Qbe and Vandal are just a few examples.
On ‘VIEWS’, Jensen grabs the baritoned, slower-tempo of Xuede and contrasts it against his more aggressive style of hip-hop. It’s almost like a push-and-pull between the two, but one isn’t trying to outdo the other. The fast-slow dynamic allows each artist to showcase their charms in distinct and memorable ways . This is the first taste of Jansen’s journey into 2019 and he has already hit the marks high on this one.