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 brb., Dru Chen, Sharizal, $ain't, Jason Ling, Hybreed Society and Vivid Shade.
brb. – ‘Can’t Tell’
When she’s gone, she’s gone.
But you don’t necessarily need to be bothered by her leaving. brb.’s latest is steeped in a breakup but isn’t emotionally shackled to the pain and heartbreak that normally follow. The sonics are lush and celebratory. Micro-melodies of coalesced future bass and vocal modulations swirl around a supremely funked-out and uplifting bassline. Listening to frontman CLO heave a sigh of relief over lines such as, “I can’t deal with no emotion / Been wasting all that to devotion” and the liberating credo, “I can’t even tell she’s gone”, makes for an exceptional listening experience.
The "achy break heart" narrative is being subverted in plain sight but winkingly. ‘Can’t Tell’ is proof that having fun is the best way to move on.
Dru Chen – ‘I Only Get It From You’
Trust Dru Chen to bear the flag for Prince in Singapore.
The centrepiece off his recent debut album Mirror Work follows the soul tradition of celebrating romance with an almost religious intensity, with nothing less than a sky-scrapingly bombastic musical arrangement. Play it like you mean it – that’s how this song unspools. Everything, all its multitudinous parts, from his coo that transitions into an ecstatic yowl, to the funky licks, to the supreme groove, to the testifying gospel chorus, to the cloud-parting guitar solo, to the beatific horns, is transcendental and pure. There is no space for cynicism in this relationship and Dru has made his gratitude known in the best, most florid way he can.
$ain’t – ‘
Thumping bass and a quirky melody kick off ‘Fly’, one of $ain’t’s catchiest tracks to date. $ain’t’s flow here is smooth and so catchy, you could easily take away the backing music and still have a banger. Ad-libs are heavily featured on ‘Fly’, similar to every track in his discography, but somehow, you get so absorbed into the track, you barely notice them. It's rare that a song this vibey lingers in one's consciousness for so long.
Jason Ling – ‘
Swimming In The Ocean’
‘Swimming In The Ocean’ sees the typically electronically hued music of Jason Ling get stripped down. Armed with nothing but a ukulele, Jason lets his boyish vocals lead the song. It’s a simple song, but it’s earnest and irreducibly heartfelt. Despite being the most bare song Jason has released in 2019, it’s also the most emotionally revealing and vulnerable side of himself he's shown.
Shahrizal – ‘I Don’t Even Know My Self’
This song confirms it: Shahrizal is making some of the most beautiful and devastating R&B coming out of Singapore right now.
He belongs to an artistic lineage that includes the formidably gifted singer-producer Nicco Homaili. They make hype-free, craft-conscious songs where the impeccable sound design is as palpable as the icy, merciless messaging. On his latest song, heartbreak is an impregnable and totalising force. The sense of drama around Shahrizal desperately clutching on to the hope that he can get her back is is amplified by the gorgeous elegiac synths that are punctuated by heady pounds of bass, which seem to say, “It’s Over”. This is not easy listening but you will find yourself playing this over and over again.
Hybreed Society – ‘Down’
“No complaints” – that’s the attitude on ‘Down’, one of the best cuts of this Singaporean quintet’s recent sophomore EP THIS WAY UP.
Though the production is thoroughly modern and progressive, mining from Metro Boomin’s shrouded gothic signature as well as body-expanding, bass-heavy trap, the song testifies to an old-school rap truism: That rap is a battleground. That you are the sum of your scars and calluses. That your crew is everything. This time, Draco Raj is the only MC rapping. His words dominate the space. Every word is menacing and considered. This is a manifesto.
Vivid Shade – ‘
I’ll Do It’
Vivid Shade may be an unknown name to many, but learn to recognise it. Vivid Shade is the future. Bearing traces of Billie Eilish and Grimes, her music brings forth something new, something that has hardly been heard from within the Little Red Dot. Boasting impeccable production, ‘I’ll Do It’ is a spectacular electronic marvel. The lyrics are simple, but the delivery is so impassioned, Vivid Shade is able to get away with it. This is a song that begs multiple listens. You’ll discover something new every time.