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 啊飄Pew, Falling Feathers, $ain't, Darryl Sim, 96memory, Rene Ann Wong and Maneloren.
Falling Feathers – ‘Monsters’
“I am reduced to nothing” is not an easy thing to say out in the open. But on his latest single, the sugar-voiced Falling Feathers has unfurled a confessional of total failure – that’s why it’s so necessary.
Make no mistake: There’s no redemption here, no hastily dreamed-up light that conveniently cuts through the dark for a cheap hail Mary at the end. Its dark finality is assured from the outset: The song's first two lines are, “I know they that say when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up / But when the bottomline seems to keep on getting lower, it doesn’t seem to stop”. The swelling climax of textures that picks up from the crushingly beautiful guitars that map the song’s length and breadth only confirm his desolation. If you’re tired of Instagram’s context-allergic way of telling you that it’s ok to not be ok, listen to this gorgeously empathetic ode.
啊飄 Pew – ‘Scallions青蔥’ featuring 王曉敏 Shelby Wang and 黃美婷 Meiting
‘80s-style rock meets Pew’s quirky charms in her new single ‘Scallions青蔥’. Together with 王曉敏 Shelby Wang and 黃美婷 Meiting, both of whom are highly celebrated Mandopop artists, she takes a polarising food item and spins it into a poppy, funky dance track. The three take turns singing about their opinions about scallions each with their own distinct sound – Meiting’s sweet and sharp; Shelby’s light and endearing; Pew’s clear and deep. As the song reaches the bridge, all three harmonise against a scratchy electric guitar riff. This contrast plays well with the gentler mood of the first part of the song. While the subject matter is simple, the soundscape is complex and both elements blend seamlessly into a fun and playful listen.
Maneloren – ‘Lost In Your Eyes’
Indie/alt-rock singer-songwriter Maneloren unleashes his debut single ‘Lost In Your Eyes’, a song he has said is about “the anxieties and insecurities that can come with interpersonal relationships”. Norman Lee, who goes by the moniker, has played for various bands such as 214 and SOLVANT. Lee’s debut is a direct showcase of gathering that experience to pursue a solo project. Funky dance grooves and bouncy guitar melodies are blended seamlessly with Maneloren’s low and hushed voice, which cuts just beneath the sounds. And with the tinge of desperation heard in his voice, the resulting track perfectly encapsulates the narrative mapped out by Lee.
$ain't – ‘Spaceman’
This happens high up in the stratosphere. The beat is majestic, unravelling at a luxuriously narcotic pace, just like $ain’t’s flow. But for all its cloud-borne langour, the things that he is sing-rapping about are incredibly immediate and close to home.
Like the best Playboi Carti songs, there’s a balance of heaven and earth that makes ‘Spaceman’ enjoyable and interesting, not just conceptually, but viscerally. From routine flexes that include money and riding in the whip to its prizewinning closing moment, “I don’t care anybody else / I just want you by myself”, the song has enough universality and charm to linger in the sound cloud of your mind long after it’s finished.
Rene Ann Wong – ‘Cheese On Toast’
“Now when I’m alone it doesn’t matter at all/ I know you’ll be there to catch me when I fall/ ‘Cus when the skies are grey I know you’ll brighten up my day/ Like cheese on toast I don’t really want to boast but I think that we were meant to be this way”, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Rene Ann Wong sings as she likens a relationship to the perfect pairing of cheese and toast.
Starting off by paying homage to The Pointer Sisters’ ‘I’m So Excited’, she rolls into a feel-good melody created by springy guitars and snappy drum beats. She captures the playful nature of a blossoming relationship in a simplistic way, which makes it an easy listen and a great sing-along. This is Rene’s second original song following 2018’s 'Lonely' and it looks like a promising start for the up-and-coming musician.
96memory – ‘STRANGER DANGER’
The simplest way to say it’s over is, to, well, just say exactly that.
96memory’s latest airy transmission is a breakup letter that makes its thrust explicit and definitive. Twinkling guitar chords wrap around a driving trap-friendly movement of bass and drums, the mode with which he delivers his verdict feels familiar, comfortable and, above all, resounding. So, when he coos “Goodbye baby/ Goodbye/ I don’t think that I can see you eye to eye”, the irrevocable essence of his words cuts through the thick layers of reverb and rip forward to the heart. His pain is telling that this is a long time coming and that this is his way of shutting that door for good: The soundtrack of self-renewal.
Darryl Sim – ‘Lonely Place’
Darryl Sim’s latest entry into 2019 is a mellow and submissive one. Emanating elements of ambient music, Sim grabs the narrative and transforms it into an expanse with a simple mix of drums and synths. He sings of the pivotal emotional scarring of loneliness in hushed and monotone vocals and ties all of it together with the underlying the backing melodies. By stripping down the song, he forces the listener into a slow lull and focus on the words and transports them into a state of self-reflection.