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 MYRNE and Rynn, Yeo and Charlie Lim, Fingerfunk, Lockshire, Keith VVolf & Aqilah Misuary, and Shahrizal.
Yeo – ‘By Myself feat. Charlie Lim’
Pop music’s debt to the legacy and cannons that compose black music will never be repaid. That’s why any artist working within its tradition has to approach the sounds and their attendant spirit with a certain measure of reverence – not because of political correctness but because of decency.
‘By Myself’’s sublime charm derives greatly from that. In keeping with the testifying tradition of soul and R&B, Yeo and Charlie Lim turn in an arms-raised, down-on-its-knees confessional that searches for transcendence in its openhearted admission of vulnerability. The hook, “Can’t do this by myself / So I’m reaching out for help”, is delivered with a tired, battle-weary exhale. A sumptuous stew of bass, bluesy tropes and wounded falsetto vocals emphasise both the urgency of the song’s message and the deliverance to be found in the humanity this music is created for.
This song will always be on your side. It’s a reminder that it’s possible to think of the idea of the innate goodness of the universe in a way that is sincere and cliché-free. This is pop that heals.
MYRNE – ‘You Could Stay feat. Rynn’
MYRNE is the embodiment of the limitlessness and fluidity of the electronic medium in expanding the lexicon of pop. In this age of access / excess, the MYRNE endeavour is, conceptually, a celebration of the death of the genre.
Rid of the old hang-ups of form, the most recent iteration of MYRNE’s music, his debut album In Search of Solitude, is a maximal celebration of a new context, a new world. Here, the means are the ends: The production is the music. And the production is exquisite. ‘You Could Stay’ is a polished artefact whose sheen is its thesis. Every element of aural phenomena, from its gorgeous, effervescent human voice, to its payload of electronic sounds – beats, bass, synth squiggles – is in its right place. The only thing askew in this universe, are the bleeding hearts caught in a push-pull tension, which makes its stature as a contemporary pop song with a next-level thrust, just perfect.
Keith VVolf – ‘With You feat. Aqilah Misuary’
All I have, I give to you – When you write a love song that affirms total surrender regardless of outcome, you walk a tightrope between beauty and devastation. Now, Keith VVolf has shown how you can make your way across that feather-light line with a burden the weight of world roiling in your heart.
Over a lovely swirl of pristine guitars – which ring like the echoes of crying angels bemoaning a one-sided love – VVolf and Misuary emote. Theirs is a universal tale, but their utterance and pain are distinct and particular. Hearing a line such as “I am here to stay as you go on your way”, amidst the rarefied environs of the song, is to experience rupture, bruising rupture. Paradise is burning – gorgeously.
Fingerfunk - ‘Chamomile’
The electronic R&B and hip-hop quartet appeals to something soft in us with its newest single – tender, vulnerable and human. If their earlier tracks, ‘Ilha’ and ‘Gypsy’, sound openly flirtatious, ‘Chamomile’ is an overt dedication to our shared humanness.
Swelling in with heavy, cushioning vocals, ‘Chamomile’ already sounds like an indelible dream, promising to be a soft and atmospheric place to land. Soft crooning in this track undeniably takes the spotlight, enveloping us in a warm haze.
Lockshire - ‘ROMEO’
In ‘ROMEO’, Lockshire delivers a sonic love letter swathed in electro-pop flirtation. He convincingly captivates with his lulling voice, a hypnotising contrast to the sheen of electronic beats that glitters beneath. His inner romantic sings “Climbed on to the top of your roof singing songs from All Time Low / Just friends never been anything more / Now I want to be your Romeo” and the effect is wholly irresistible.
A wide-eyed lustre saturates the song, reminiscent of the golden age of '90s bubblegum pop, where the melodies are syrupy and the hooks effective.
Shahrizal - ‘Don’t Wanna Start Again’
“We’ve been back and forth / Flipping there and back / Can we get over this / Can we just stop this now / I don’t know how we even get to this”, wholly encompasses the profound weariness and regret that Shahrizal seeks to deliver with this track.
Shahrizal takes to the expansive canvas of R&B and croons about a love that is fizzling out. With each repetition of “I don’t wanna start again”, the message becomes increasingly piercing and hard-hitting, and the track ends uncomfortably with hollow beats that sound distressingly like leaving footfalls.