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 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 Vandetta, Benjamin Kheng, Ralph Alvern, FUDGY & FlightSch, Habimoya & Erawr, Hybreed Society, LATRO, CLT, Lineath, 3AM Music Collective, pop!SUGAR and VISNS.
Vandetta – ‘Give Me Love’
I’ll never tire of exalting Vandetta’s charms.
When your instrument and vision align to guarantee that you’ll be on a never-ending winning streak, the odds favour you naturally. Her best testimony are her songs; each one is a masterclass in a certain idea of lushness, of sound that blossoms in the listener’s ear and suffuses their consciousness.
This time, she leaves the R&B domain, which she rules, unopposed, and turns her attentions to house. But this is a Vandetta transmission, so it’s not as simple as pairing a husky voice over a kinetic beat. Once again, she utterly claims this territory: Where it is usually a vehicle of transcendence, it is now the cosmic backdrop against which the will to independence and the human desire for love and to be loved play tug of war.
The one constant here is her simmering voice, her emotionally forceful, ray-of-light coo that can send corporeal shocks and bestow melodic blessings to all who seek them. Many have sacrificed heart for texture but she bravely stands by soul. That’s why her urgent plea, “Do you wanna give me love?”, resounds across the ages, demanding an answer from the one it’s meant for but speaking for all who need to know as well.
Benjamin Kheng – ‘Wicked’
When love involves the dazzling collision of devastation and intoxication, it manifests in the heady, all-consuming grandeur that envelops that very tension. ‘Wicked’ is exactly that. Dark, affecting and utterly spellbinding, Benjamin Kheng’s latest offering, marking his head-dive back into music as a solo artist, arrives as an atypical love song that reminds us of the sinister side of what we often blindingly place on a pedestal.
In a roguish juxtaposition, ’Wicked’ shows us what it means to simultaneously ascend to a glorious pinnacle in love and yet lie beaten on the ground. Marked by heavy gospel influences, this track indulges in and mesmerises with its layered expression, swathed in Kheng’s guttural vocals and resplendent, full-bodied harmonies of the choir. Wholly rousing in its sonic manifestation and bare-it-all display of emotional depth, it is an insistent reminder of how human we are, and how easy it is to drown completely in someone else.
FUDGY and Flightsch – ‘Drown’
Desire – at the bridge, when the action builds to its blood-streaked, psychically bruised climax, there’s a lull during which that word is repeated thrice before the track hurtles to its crushing denouement. In a song wherein love and depression are the two walls closing you in with brutally tandem momentum, it’s a moment of clarity, a spiritual quiet that underlines the cause for the fall. This is a psychodrama with two characters, FUDGY, the tragic hero and Flightsch, the chorus that soundtracks it all – and each plays their part stunningly.
As the protagonist, FUDGY is beyond-believable and endearing. You can hear the pain and defeat in his quivering voice, redolent of suffering and steeped in resignation. His lament, “But she played me a fool”, rises to the surface of the mix like a sustained exhale. It’s desire, guard-destroying, judgement-clouding, world-upending but oh-so-human desire that pulls the rug out from under us. And for his part, Flighsch amplifies the no-way-out sense of desolation with an aqueous beat that hints at fluidity but submerges you with mammoth swells of bass thunder. This tide is always high – it’s over.
Hybreed Society – ‘PRONTO’
“While you out here give it all that you got” – Go hard or go nowhere.
Hybreed Society’s latest is an ode to grinding till you reach the top. As Q says, “Don't touch me bro I'm going lightspeed / Pronto”. Over a ghostly beat, accented by ad libs and distorted effects, the lads trade mean mugging bars about crushing adversity and conquering their way to the peak, which is both a literal and symbolic place.
Aspiration is as effective as failure as a motivational tool. But there is no room for the latter here. This one is a celebration of the hustle – that paid off. Bottoms up, bottoms up, bottoms up!
Lineath – ‘Wild’
You know a manifesto when you hear one.
This is Lineath’s personal call to arms. This is the anthem of his blood-thirst and hunger. He packs in so much energy in this two-and-a-half-minute track, much like the rapper he makes a winking and knowing reference to: DaBaby.
Both have snarling flows, teeming with intent and an unrelenting thrust that resists unpacking. Both ride the beat with a dashing sense of menace; each line follows the other with merciless precision. There’s no need for false complexity when the message is this simple: Get out of my way or else.
CLT – ‘Instagirl’
CLT returns with his latest tune, ‘Instagirl’, a fun, light-hearted take on what it’s like dealing with Instagram models. This isn’t a track that is meant to be taken seriously, it’s supposed to be an easy, effortless listen. It knows exactly what it is, and excels at it.
The production and instrumentals at play here transport listeners back to the 2000s, when light and breezy tropical beats were all the rage, thanks to the likes of Sean Kingston and IYAZ. CLT’s flow on ‘Instagirl’ is undeniably the best he’s laid on record so far. If you’re looking for a fun jam, look no further than CLT’s ‘Instagirl’.
Habimoya, Erawr – ‘Waste’
‘Waste’ takes a cold, hard look at leading someone on, and the internal battle we face as we doubt if we should give our all to that special someone. While this is a Habimoya track first and foremost, featured vocalist Erawr steals the spotlight, and is given more time to shine. In fact, Habimoya only shows up for the final verse of the track. He does a great job at building upon the subject matter that Erawr crafts, and brings the track to a satisfying close.
The instrumentation on ‘Waste’, however, may be the song’s strongest asset. It’s simple, dark, and heavy. Hollow synths float around thumping percussion to create a vessel that perfectly carries through the sombre theme of the song.
pop!SUGAR – ‘Taste the Rainbow’
pop!SUGAR’s ‘Taste the Rainbow’ simply has to be categorised as one of the most aptly-titled tracks of the year. ‘Taste the Rainbow’ is a light, vibrant, and colourful track that’s bursting at the seams with multiple layers of textures and sonic flavours.
The track starts off rather slow and mellow, but slowly builds to a future-bass drop that resembles the light and jovial essence of Marshmello’s earlier material, while adding in pop!SUGAR’s personal touch with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bass line. The track is infectious, and downright groovy. The bridge, which may remind you of AQUA’s signature vocals, may be take a little getting used to, but once you pass that hurdle, the track flows incredibly well and finds itself sitting among the most interesting tracks coming out of Singapore in 2019.
Ralph Alvern – ‘Over the Phone’
Ralph Alvern has one of the best voices in Singapore. His days as a busker proved that. Ralph is at his best when he’s armed with nothing but a microphone and a guitar. He doesn’t need anything else. His debut track, ‘Be Okay’ showcased his undeniable songwriting prowess. So it took us by surprise when he released his new, electronically-infused ‘Over the Phone’. While it’s nowhere near bad – in fact, it’s great – this is an interesting departure from the sound that people have come to love from him.
Artistic growth and experimentation are necessary parts of music, and while we do enjoy ‘Over the Phone’, we wished it featured elements of his earlier sound. There’s hope though, as he readies himself for a 2020 EP.
LATRO – ‘Birdy’
The heart is the source of everything. And when hurt disguised as nonchalance is fodder for a heartbreak anthem, it delivers an ache that steadily unfolds and persists.
The distorted voices of a couple, mid-conversation, dance uncertainly about each other above melancholic piano riffs and gravely unveil the sombre landscape that lies ahead. Then, enter LATRO’s airy croons that give the track an unassuming, laid-back arch, yet deliver an underlying despondency that stays with the listener from start to finish.
3AM Music Collective – ‘Be feat. Fym Summer, Kevin Mathews’
Music ascends to a whole other dimension when it heals. A scintillating and empowering anthem that is encapsulated by its title which moves with the profundity lying in its seeming simplicity, ‘Be’ sets out to do that and succeeds.
Setting out on a virtuous mission to remove stigmas attached to mental illnesses through music, the 3am Music Collective offers solace and a metaphorical hug to anyone seeking refuge from the jagged edges of the world with this track. Paired with the limpid, ethereal vocals of Fym Summer, ‘Be’ seeps needless tension from reality and coaxes us to let go of lingering trepidation.
VISNS – ‘HIGH STAKES feat. ilovil, YELLO DICAPRIO’
Newest rap collective VISNS has arrived fully armed with its relentless, vehement potency and dynamic, multilingual offerings. Igniting the spark on the sizzling intensity that runs through the entire EP, the group gleefully opens on an unapologetically hard-hitting note with ‘HIGH STAKES’.
Going straight for the jugular, they withhold nothing with their unambiguous, lyrical bluntness, dextrously spitting verses over rumbling, catastrophic beats. The contrast between ilovil's piercing tone and YELLO DICAPRIO’s insistent growls is a sweet, masochistic affair, with disparate voices swirling and bleeding into each other in the seamless sonic landscape that is wholly energy-packed and hypnotising.