Singapore music reviews: Of Methodist, Foxela, Sam Rui, GARETH FERNANDEZ, DEON, W.Y.HUANG, Lincoln Lim, Dominic Chin, stillsunrise, Darryl Sim, Ębønÿ, Pseudo and Lineath

Singapore music reviews: Of Methodist, Foxela, Sam Rui, GARETH FERNANDEZ, DEON, W.Y.HUANG, Lincoln Lim, Dominic Chin, stillsunrise, Darryl Sim, Ębønÿ, Pseudo and Lineath

Every Friday, many local musicians release new music that flies under the radar. To bring you the best new local music releases this weekend, we've compiled a playlist featuring some of the newest songs out from artists such as Of Methodist, Foxela, Sam Rui, GARETH FERNANDEZ, DEON, W.Y.Huang, Lincoln Lim, Dominic Chin, stillsunrise, Darryl Sim, Ębønÿ, Pseudo and Lineath.

Sam Rui – ‘I’m Good’

What do you say when you’re faced with a choice between meeting strangers online and IRL and the opposite pole of a distraction-free loneliness? You say, “I’m good” and get used to chilling by yourself. That’s the very attitude Singapore’s princess of broken-heart R&B advocates on her new standalone single.

‘I’m Good’ is a principled stand. It’s where Rui says enough is enough; it’s her ‘Irreplaceable’. It’s so easy to empathise with her because the song’s emotional dynamic pivots between being firmly declarative and reassuringly confessional. Over sparkling production steeped in rich soul and R&B signifiers, she reveals that she’s “Trying to kick her bad habit” and that “Seeking attention from boys on the Internet isn’t what [she] wants to be”. 

Love is a needy, restless thing and being at home with its demands is a supremely difficult proposition, so the poignancy of Rui telling herself what she needs to hear, what we need to hear, can never be overstated.

Foxela – Wild Love’

With ‘Wild Love’, the Singaporean EDM wunderkind expands his sonic horizons, trading in high-energy dance vibes for a slower, more mature sound. Featuring lush and sultry vocals, the track slowly builds to a progressive drop, giving the song a rush of energy before slowing things down for the next verse. The track showcases the best of Foxela’s production capabilities and highlights his keen ear for sound quality and songwriting. While the track stands out as one of Foxela’s more complex and restrained releases to date, it still captures the undeniable essence of his sound.

Lincoln Lim – ‘Better Times’

‘Better Times’ is a reflective track about the ache of lost love and how one should always look forward to better times despite that. In all its folk-poppy goodness, Lincoln delivers a powerful, uplifting message to those that might find themselves stuck in a situation that left them hopeless. The second the song plays, it's already clear that it’s going to be a fun one.

It introduces itself with powerful piano chords that instantly catch one’s attention. Lincoln’s lush and full vocals sing, “I walk through cities knowing only how to get from a bottle of wine to a broken heart”, acknowledging the struggles of getting over the one that got away. However, subsequent lyrics put a positive spin to a painful situation, telling the audience, that, no matter what happens, to always look “to the better times”. This groovy anthem is sure to get your feet stomping to the beat.

DEON – ‘Change of Heart’

DEON belongs to a class of artists who don’t make music for “fun”. Within the three-album sweep of his work, including his latest opus eulogia; eulogy, life-changing, self-defining events and phenomena are immortalised. There is no room for trifles in his universe. ‘Change of Heart’, one of the highlights off the aforementioned 10-song set, updates the symphonic grandeur of his earlier work with a heady dose of electronics. But the soaring textures beat with an unmistakably human pulse. Someone close to him has fled – that’s a tragedy on the scale of a calamity that has him “face down / on the ground”. It feels delicate yet weighty because we’re witnessing a heavenly appeal for earth-bound problems. That fact that it ends with the resolution, “But I get by”, is encouraging. DEON knows that moving on is a matter of necessity.

stillsunrise – Breathing Fine’

This may be a bold statement, but with ‘Breathing Fine’, stillsunrise has put fourth one of the strongest songs to come out of Singapore in 2019. 

The track starts off slow and mellow, with velvet-smooth vocals leading the way, set to soothing and calming instrumentals. As the song builds, low rumbles echo in the background. Before you know it, low baritone voices join in, echoing in unison, adding an element of wonder to the track. For a minute, the song transforms into something exciting and draws listeners in, exquisitely. It’s a carefully thought out track, and one that not only showcases the band’s musical capabilities but also its strength in songwriting. It’s not every day that you get a band that comes along and hits every aspect of great musicianship out of the park, so when that band does come around, pay attention to it. That band is stillsunrise.

Darryl Sim – ‘Goodbye’

Bedroom musician Darryl Sim’s latest single is a moving piano ballad that tugs on the heartstrings of listeners. ‘Goodbye’ is about coping with the loss of the person that one loves most. In typical ballad fashion, the song banks more on emotion than technicality; a simple one without excessive effects or layering, but the lyrics and delivery convey the rawness of the songwriter’s hurt and the depth of his emotions.

“And the nights seem longer / Than the days / Oh what could've been us / If you stayed”, laments Darryl as he sings about his lost love. This echoes a sentiment that is, unfortunately, experienced by many at some point in their lives. But, fortunately for those that are currently going through such a predicament, they now have this song to cry to. Perhaps that isn't such a bad thing: At least they feel less alone knowing that there are people out there, such as Darryl, that they can relate with.


When Michael Jackson looked at the man in the mirror, he asked him to change his ways. But GARETH FERNANDEZ’s interaction is different.

Though his musicality has always been florid and effusive, FERNANDEZ takes it further on ‘Achilles’, which is an existential, punch-drunk ode to embracing thyself, flaws and all. It’s a pure thing of beauty, a gorgeous display of ray-of-light soul, the kind you need when you’re down on your luck due largely to your own moves. Lovely vocals are one thing but when they carry your walk across the tightrope between pride and pain, they are heralds of transcendence. That’s what FERNANDEZ achieves here. When he sings, “when my time is up / you’ll know my love is real”, he acknowledges the fundamental essence of this song: It’s meant to outlast him.

And it will.

Dominic Chin – SHY’

Dominic Chin’s latest track, ‘SHY’ may very well be the direct opposite of it’s title and theme. ‘SHY’ is a loud, fun, and flamboyant single. It’s an undeniable bop. Starting off with synths and a simple bassline, it immediately alerts fans to the song’s quirky tendencies, as it builds to its catchy chorus, which features a house-like drop, accented with electronic keys and synths. The song also features catchy, and memorable vocals.

Pseudo – ‘See You Again’

‘See You Again’ is a collaborative track between Pseudo and Chris Theng, and a beautiful one at that. A rich ballad comprising melodic vocals, piano progressions and the wail of violins, this song is about missing your loved one and the desperate longing for their presence. The sound is full and rounded, almost as if it encircles the listeners and embraces them in a warm, comforting hug.

Lyrics such as “Trying to sleep but I can’t / ‘Cause if I see you in my dreams / I might not wake up again”, evince the thought process of someone missing their significant other so badly, they never want to leave the next time they see each other. In essence, this song is a romantic homage to the lovers out there that are unable to spend as much time with each other as they would have liked.

W.Y. Huang – ‘Translate’

“If I could find a sound that could capture / If could find a name for this rapture” – In his superlatively profound film Arrival, Dennis Villeneuve posited that a higher and richer understanding of language can lead to the sublimation of daily experiences into something next-level and ineffable. Huang, who also signed off on his fantastically overpowered EP Crossing The Great Water last week, situates his critique of the verbal crutch in the twinned schema of globalisation and Sinofuturism, the intersection of which is the site of his self-actualisation.

'Translate' is an apt title because it connotes an impossibility. The vocabulary to describe – and, therefore, approximate – the complexity of life at a time when the inescapable digital thrall is both nullifier of difference and repository of the deepest-set roots of our past, our cultural totalities and particularities, does not exist. The spectral soundscape, imbued with seething textures, blurts of bassy thuds and pullulating micro-melodies, mirrors Huang’s urging that, “We don’t need words to show”. The level of articulation inherent in this song’s conception evokes the teeming detail of dreams and reveries. No words exist for its multitudes. But with empathy and (self-)awareness, ascension is possible.

Ębønÿ – Vibes’

Singaporean rapper Ębønÿ, real name Aaron King, made his first foray into music less than a year ago, but has already come out shining, proving his potential with his latest banger, ‘Vibes’. Right off the bat, two elements must be commended: Its incredible production and impeccable flow. It’s an incredibly strong track from someone who could still be considered a fresh face in the game. King’s flow is steady and creative, harnessing the beat to elevate his delivery. While the subject matter may be explicit, the delivery is smooth and clean, creating a nice balance for listeners. From start to finish, the track is a true vibe, living up to its title.

Lineath – ‘RICH’

On first listen, ‘RICH’ seems like your typical hip-hop track where the rapper brags about being materialistically rich. However, if you pay attention, you'll learn that this song actually delves deep into the psyche of Lineath and the struggles that he faced. From being so broke that he ate leftover dinner for lunch to the time his father had a stroke, the song chronicles Lineath's journey through life, up until this point – one that has not treated him the best.

Lyrics such as “I couldn’t handle my ego / I needed that shot of placebo / Needed the demons to let me go / But I didn’t want them to let me go”, demonstrate the hardship the rapper had gone through on a personal and mental level. Perhaps, by declaring that he is ‘RICH’, Lineath is trying to make a statement that no matter life throws your way and how “broke” you are, you can still “wake up feeling rich” and that everything is within reach.

Of Methodist – ‘Narcotic’

There are many ways to celebrate sex and intimacy in song. To that end, what Of Methodist does here is legitimately spellbinding – and he does it while speaking the language of heterosexual Lotharios such as The-Dream and Miguel.

‘Narcotic’ is a song made for when the lights go down and when bodies interlock – it’s also born in a world where governments are able to police whom we love and dictate what we do with our bodies. That it’s brave for even existing is undeniable. To know that Of Methodist is able to, over a slow-burn shimmer of a beat, look his lover in the eye and say, “Welcome to the haven of my love / But you gotta strip it down to feel it”, to know that they’ve found a place of magic for themselves, is incredibly heartening. R&B can be such a freeing, powerful mode. What ‘Narcotic’ does with it is correspondingly spectacular.