Singapore music reviews: 10vacations, Joshua Simon, Islandeer, SLAYN, Killmeslow, P_NEDA, YASAI, and Jason Ling

Singapore music reviews: 10vacations, Joshua Simon, Islandeer, SLAYN, Killmeslow, P_NEDA, YASAI, and Jason Ling

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 Joshua Simon, 10vacations, Islandeer, SLAYN, Killmeslow, P_NEDA, YASAI, and Jason Ling.

Joshua Simon – ‘Filthy’

This song is a triumph of art – simple as that.

Joshua Simon is a sui generis proposition. He came into his own with his sledgehammer of a single ‘Drive’ and his take-no-prisoners thrall has become more transfixing with every new release. But I will argue that ‘Filthy’ is a whole new reckoning of his king-slaying ethos. A body is buried is in this harrowing song that pounds with a heaving sexual energy, wherein filth, glorious filth overflows in resplendent ungodly splendour. With its revenge narrative, mythic sense of foreboding and a correspondingly haunting turn in French by guest artist Bilal Hassani, ‘Filthy’ is three different songs in one, threaded into a singular opus by its maker’s sophisticated understanding of connection between sex and depravity.

Splitting the difference between revenge and hurt, Simon shows how one can find salvation in filth. Sometimes, the way up and out is through the bottom.

Islandeer – ‘Lost Bicycle’

On Islandeer’s previous single, ‘The Bad Taste’, the duo explored spectral psychedelia. With ‘Lost Bicycle’, the duo switches things up once again, this time turning its focus to the realms of shoegaze and dream pop. A band’s longevity stems from its ability to evolve and experiment, and it’s evident that Islandeer has that aspect of maturity on lock. ‘Lost Bicycle’ may feature the heartbreaking themes that we’re all too familiar with, but manages to cushion the blow with its intricate melodies and soft, comforting tones. If Islandeer isn’t your current go-to rainy day artist, it’s time to change that. With the duo’s innate ability to switch sounds at any given time, it’ll be interesting to see the strides it will make in future releases.

YASAI – ‘Lost’

When you’re someone who has been floating in a sea of nothingness for a while, it can be quite jarring when you fall into the all-encompassing depths of love. That is essentially what YASAI’s latest song is conveying. “I can't afford to lose / Myself in all this shit / I ain't begging but / Would you fall for me?”, paints the picture of a troubled person falling in love with someone whom they think is their only shot at redemption.

It is not unusual to see one’s partner as the better half. So it makes sense, that, even if only on a subconscious level, we hope that our partner will be able to show us the right path, especially for someone who’s been lost mentally and emotionally for a long time.

Sonically, 'Lost' is somewhat reminiscent of an older song, ‘Fell in Love’, with both having fuzzy, melodic hooks exploring similar topics. Now that YASAI has added ‘Lost’ to their arsenal, they are set to take the rest of 2019 by storm.


“I’m free” – The quest for deliverance has long been one of pop’s most reliable muses and in sipping from its narrative fount, SLAYN proffers the kind of joyous upper case blessing promised by the song’s title but with a considered sense of dynamism.

In under three minutes, the duo presents a panorama of contemporary pop signifiers: Voluptuous swells of bass, vocal inflections, Afro-ish-accented urgings to “Feel the liberation”, getting retribution in one’s DMs and most crucially, regaining the ability to “[rewrite] the way this story ends”. Throughout, there’s a lightness, a fairy-lit ethereality that makes the song’s direct message feel urgent and palpable. Kendrick Lamar had to shout to remind us that we gon’ be alright. SLAYN echoes that sentiment with a wink and coo.

Killmeslow & P_NEDA – ‘Garçon’

Killmeslow is on a hot streak right now. After 'Nightclub', his gripping collaboration with Louie Indigo , he returns with a worthy follow-up in the form of ‘Garçon’ with P_NEDA. Set over a light trap beat both devastating and enchanting, P_NEDA and Killmeslow breathe new life into the overcrowded genre of emo-trap. As they trade verses, they feed off each other’s flow and energy, culminating in a track that is so seamless, it’s hard to tell when they switch verses. It’s extremely rare to have to two artists who vibe so well together. They'd do well to keep their collaboration going. 

Jason Ling – ‘Mao Shan Wang, Durian Tree’

An ode to Singapore’s controversial King of Fruits, Jason Ling’s latest single is a humorous reflection of our country’s long-standing love (or hate) affair with durians. This track is a light-hearted tune doused in goofiness and gusto and not meant to be taken too seriously.

Despite that (and the divisive smell and taste of the fruit), one thing is extremely clear: Jason Ling really, really, really loves durians – and he is willing to “Climb the tree / Cross the sea / Just to get [it] in [his] tummy”.

In terms of the sound, ‘Mao Shan Wang, Durian Tree’ has an undeniable Mandopop ring to it. It's clear that Jason Ling is influenced by the genre. The acoustic guitar, sing-spoken verses and an extremely catchy chorus are some of the staples of the Mandopop hits of the early 2000s. Incorporating a trap beat in the background, this song makes for a smooth partnership between the music of then and now.

10vacations – ‘Capitol Theatre’

Making music in your bedroom is both a self-defining and isolating endeavour. The space between this duality is what gives the output of this mode the power to be translated to empathy in the listener. On her debut single, the singer-songwriter 10vacations testifies so devastatingly to that truth with the song’s central question: “Do you think I’ve wasted all your time?”

That’s never an easy question to ask. The words come from a world of pain that is punishing in its self-reducing weight. Despite that, 10vacations doesn’t bow to easy solutions. There’s no convenient silver lining in this obliteratingly dark cloud. Coated with the celestial mist of reverb, her voice confronts the reality of her situation, as mood-perfect guitars sing their song in the background.

When it’s over, it’s over. And when it’s over, it sounds like this.