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 Perk Pietrek, ShiGGa Shay, BOYINSPACE, Cravism, nanu, Dezaster, stillsunrise, Islandeer, Madmän and killmeslow.
Shigga Shay – ‘Paiseh’
“I know your momma don’t like me / Would I ever change? / Highly unlikely” – Shigga Shay has returned. In his wake, is a take-it-or-leave-it banger that is unapologetically and unabashedly Shigga Shay. ‘Paiseh’ belongs to the kind of Asian rap that weaponises bilingualism. Over a beat that splices booming trap with hyperactive hi-hats, Shigga fires English-Mandarin salvoes that split the difference between chest-thumping self-affirmation and sneering flexes. The title itself references the Hokkien word that loosely translates to “my bad”. But that’s the exact opposite of Shigga’s approach on the song. It operates on that conceptual premise and it works because its mouthpiece is so convincing.
Perk Pietrek – ‘Revival’
Perk Pietrek is one of the two biggest EDM producers in Singapore, and he has the resume to match the claim. In late 2017, Perk’s music was played by global dance music icon Skrillex. In 2018, Perk was enlisted by Paramount Studios to cook up a tasty bass remix of the Mission: Impossible theme.
Now, Perk has released a single, titled ‘Revival’ with Barong Family, one of EDM’s most exclusive labels. It's an amalgamation of several genres that still affirms cohesion. There are elements of drum & bass, trap, bass and a smidge of tropical house. The song puts Perk’s musicality and creativity on full display, and it pays off. The track is a strong contender for the best Singaporean EDM track of the year. With festival season creeping up on us, expect to hear this banger at clubs and festivals across the country.
Cravism – ‘fear feat. Maya Diegel’
When 18-year-old Cravis Chang stumbled onto the world of music production, he turned to his classical training and his passion for hip-hop, through the world of breakdancing, and fashioned a sound that complements both worlds: Popping and upbeat yet sensual and controlled. His previous two instrumental albums gave the world a glimpse of this direction, but it’s only in his latest single, 'fear', that his experiment with creating that unique blend became a success. Bolstered by robust bass, Cravism carefully inputs a rotation of manufactured sounds: Shimmery synths, plucked bass guitar and echoing vocals. The end product gives jazz singer Maya Diegel a perfect bed to lay down her vocals and create a hushed, neo-soul number that is mesmerising.
BOYINSPACE – ‘Don’t Call Me’
Laid over a slow emo-trap beat, BOYINSPACE’s latest song ‘Don’t Call Me’ is perfect for a 2am solo drive along an empty highway. The song first hits as something to vibe and chill to, until the lyrics sink in. That is when one gets a deeper look into BOYINSPACE’s psyche, this being is one of his more vulnerable tracks.
“I hate doing this shit ‘cause you can’t decide / ‘Cause you love playing games with my mind / I swear you do this shit all the time.” sings BOYINSPACE, as he laments about a complicated relationship. Living up to his moniker, he filters his vocals to the point that they float, as if unfolding in space. The thick slabs of deep bass evoke a sense grandeur and nothingness of space, and the numbness that come with situations like the one he's going through here.
Killmeslow – ‘Nightclub feat. Louie Indigo’
Alienation is valuable coin in the realm of contemporary R&B. We live in a time where it’s possible to be in the midst of so many people, so many happenings, and yet feel completely, impregnably alone. As the most expressive of all of pop’s canons, R&B possess an eloquence to manage and express that irony and Killmeslow does well to prove that. His narrative is set in the most buzzing and densely populated of social spaces but what he feels is a numb sense of ennui that’s paralysing: “I just got my heart broke / I don’t wanna wake up”. There are Xans for the pain but actual healing is beyond him.
But Louie Indigo might just have an answer: “I ain’t got the time / The time to fall in love” Maybe the way out is to feel nothing. The fact that his voice cuts through the beat like a ray of light is telling. It's airy and weightless and his conviction palpable. Both artists vibe immaculately – this song is a conversation that we all need to have with ourselves.
Madmän – ‘Sufiya’
Madmän's new song starts off with a slow roll, with Spud drawling about a fantasy of a relationship in a dream before the drums kick in. As his desire for the girl grows, his voice intensifies, exuding a longing passion and a dreamy ease. The climax hits as he drags on the last few words of the bridge: “Even as the world’s crumbling down / stumbling down” and a flurry of drums accompany the repeated words: “I’ll be here”. His conviction is palpable and the so is the sheer vibe the song creates, gauzy textures and all.
It’s an impassioned love letter and one that, at some point in our lives, we might hope to write for the one.
Dezaster – ‘The Touch of Death’
Singaporean thrash metal outfit Dezaster makes a powerful return to music after a three-year hiatus. The band’s debut album, No Surrender, is packed to the gills with fast-paced thrash anthems, but we’re going to focus on one track in particular: ‘The Touch of Death’. Clocking in at five-and-a-half minutes, the track is a sonic assault on the senses, often making listeners feel like they’re ready to do battle. Blistering guitar solos and riffs are found in spades, but somehow don't overcrowd the song. Everything is where it should be. While the track is an absolute ripper, it does one thing exceptionally well: It transports listeners back to the ‘80s and ‘90s, when thrash reigned supreme. With this track, and album, Dezaster is making it known that 2019 is going to be their year.
nanu – ‘ ETA? (80s Love Song) ’
The first thing that hits listeners with ‘ETA? (80s Love Song)’ is the fairytale-type synths that gently assault the ears. That is followed by an airy angelic voice singing, “Saw you from afar / Can I get inside your car?”, with a vocal quality similar to the likes of Cyndi Lauper and The Bangles, but with a childlike twist.
“Take me to the stars / Hold my hand inside your car”, perfectly reflects the innocence of young romance and the fantasy of travelling the world with the love of your life. This song is an appropriate tribute to the music of the '80s with all its defining characteristics. A beautiful amalgamation of Soft Cell-type synth beats and Madonna-like delivery by the nanu girls, it is no wonder the song is called ‘ETA? (80s Love Song)’.
Islandeer – ‘The Bad Taste’
“She really got the bad taste / But who the hell am I to say?” – Behold heartbroken indie rock’s emotional foundation stone. Over a hyper-lush movement of spectral psychedelia, this familiar tale unwinds. For all their well-worn ubiquity, boy-meets-girl scenarios are stupendously complex. Islandeer’s multiple-front success here stems from its awareness of that fact and its subsequent execution of its truth. The deluxe weave of sonics furnishes a dreamy, almost loungey mood but the emotional essence is a searching one, of rupture and bafflement.
The Bad Taste is a cruel phenomenon but Islandeer’s fight is valiant and dashing.
stillsunrise – ‘Choices’
In stillsunrise’s new single, the band navigates one of the most complex mysteries of life: Love. The band approaches it softly: Delicate acoustic guitar strums pave the way into the track and contemplative thoughts slowly roll in: “Listen to your head / But don’t make noises / ‘Cos all these consequences leave you poisoned”. As the song progresses, so does the danger of the thought of not deserving love. The feeling of dread is felt as the chorus comes in, and the line: “Maybe I’m, not meant to be in love”, soars above the strings, accompanied by subdued backing vocals. Towards the end of the song, the viewpoint changes from “I” to “We”, putting a spotlight on a particular relationship that didn’t work out and may have been the precursor to the dark thoughts beforehand. It’s painful, it’s guttural and, worse of all, it’s real.