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 Marian Carmel, Estelle Fly, ANDREAH, Djohan el Din, Killmeslow, Jenk$ and P_NEDA, Haziman and ABANGSAPAU, $ain't and Shahrizal.
Marian Carmel – ‘Might Never Get Better’
On her debut standalone single, Marian Carmel inadvertently delivers a gorgeous but devastating testimony of the nuanced powers of the human voice.
That hers is lovely, sweet and hushed is no question. And while many singer-songwriters likewise armed opt to work in the wheelhouse of love and its antitheses, she goes for the jugular of a different kind of personal. ‘Might Never Get Better’ is a nervy, unabashedly revealing confession of anxiety and the ripple effects of panic disorder. No word in this song is cavalier or easy to sing. When she coos that she “can’t keep up with [her]self”, she’s underlining in red what it means to go through life when your biggest enemies are your own thoughts.
But if music really is the cathartic device it’s advertised to be, Marian hints at how it might help: The pure sound of her voice rests like an blessing atop the beautiful sonics that split the difference between hooks-aplenty pop and soft, sepia-lit R&B. That’s why the title is deceptive: ‘Might Never Get Better’ is the sound of healing.
Estelle Fly – ‘Just Friends’
“You and me were bound to be impossible”: Ouch.
Estelle Fly’s third single is a mercilessly unequivocal and direct death sentence to a failing relationship: All roads here lead to the sunken place that is the friend zone. Her lilting vocals are declarative in their unwavering impetus. Non-negotiable sentiments such as, “I don’t like you like that / ‘Cos I know what I want / And that’s a fact”, are conveyed by an uncannily dance-y arsenal of a beat. The twinned powers of Evan Low and J.SON inhere in a high-impact listen with layered drum sounds, epic synth slabs and zeitgeist-checking maximalism. The whole thing is dramatic, high-stakes, and especially at the bridge, existentially resounding. If you feel like Estelle does, you’ve found your new anthem.
Killmeslow – ‘Just Friends feat. Jenk$ and P_NEDA’
Emo will never die – and this song is proof.
In 2019, it looks and sounds different but the essence of its spirit is very much the same, if even more self-indulgently melancholic and infinitely darker. The fact that the musical spine of this song is the saddest guitar line in all of pop punk, Blink-182’s ‘Adam’s Song’, is also evidence of emo’s evolutionary strain.
Killmeslow’s update is bewitching and gut-wrenching. Where it originally soundtracked an ode to suicide, depression and loneliness, here, that unforgettable melody is in service to suicide, depression and loneliness as a result of a breakup. The fatalism here is beyond-devastating: “I never felt so on my own / I don’t think that I’ll be moving on”; “The choice is mine to let me die on my own”; “She’s the reason why I’m not feeling alright / The reason I might die”. What it does so well, is present a totalising vision of darkness, death and sadness, an infectious dark cloud to immerse oneself in, to feel overpowered in and to explore.
Djohan el Din – ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’
Djohan el Din’s ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is an intriguing track about not letting other people’s opinions affect you. It’s set against a unique beat that is both smooth and mellow yet hard, with its melodies and keyboard synths, and punchy, crisp snare hits. The track is riddled with potential, given its concept and musicianship, but the flow on the track could use some improving. While Djohan kicks the track off with one of the smoothest opening bars, it quickly becomes a lot more simplistic, and loses the momentum he started with. That’s not to say he’s a bad rapper but given the track’s premise, it would greatly benefit from a little more gruffness and aggression in his delivery. Then again, this is one of Djohan’s first few releases, and he could still be finding his footing and his own style.
Shahrizal – ‘Slow Things Down’
Shahrizal’s latest offering, ‘Slow Things Down’, is one – if not – his most complete song yet, as he effortlessly rotates between clean sung vocals, and rap verses throughout the course of the track. The song’s premise tackles the fast-paced day-to-day routines we face, and wanting to slow things down to enjoy the simple moments with our friends and loved ones. While this isn’t a love song, it’s one of Shahrizal’s most emotional, as he talks about having to find himself, before returning to those around him. Musically, the track flows smoothly, and features some of the best production that the musician has worked with thus far.
ANDREAH – ‘Be My Light’
The indisputable power of pop lies in its direct, compelling messages and heart-on-sleeve sonic blasts. ANDREAH’s dynamic blend of pop and rock effortlessly touches hearts and attests to that relentless appeal.
‘Be My Light’ is an unapologetic love letter and her most upbeat track yet, a refreshing contrast to her previously mellow, acoustic expression. Melodic electric guitar riffs and thumping drum beats effectively gel with her powerful, intoxicating vocals. Complete with catchy hooks and woven through with an infectious energy, this track is saturated with a resplendence which its title promised from the very beginning.
$ain’t – ‘Paper’
Rap is birthed from a state of resistance and exists as a metaphor for transcendence. Despite all that, $ain’t’s ethereal brand of mellifluous and sentimental hip-hop brims with romance as he effectively transforms rap into his personal canvas for expression.
‘Paper’ is hazy and desire-filled, highlighted with a certain confusion that $ain’t struggles to come to terms with, creating a wholly mesmerising yet unsettling soundscape. Easing in with quiet keys and teasing, breathy beats, it grows into a full-bodied tango, as he becomes intertwined in a hypnotising pull-and-push with the protagonist in the lyrics that neither can escape from. As a result, he leaves us with the sensation that the track ends prematurely, as he remains trapped in the limbo of the dance.
Haziman, ABANGSAPAU – ‘REMEMBER’
One of hip-hop’s aims is transformation – pushing boundaries, altering normative states, and making riches from rags.
In that spirit, ‘REMEMBER’ is a momentous, dazzling collision between two spheres of artistry that manages to bleed seamlessly into each one. In this track, the marriage of R&B and hip-hop is an unquestioned and intuitive existence. ABANGSAPAU’s melodic rap drips with an alluring undertone as he croons about the bittersweet memories with a past lover. Building into hooks that brim with Haziman’s distinct vocals, the track proves itself to embody an intriguing contrast and a layered sonic experience.