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 LEW and Marian Carmel, Joshua Simon and Dave Anonuevo, JJ Lin, Gentle Bones, Leon Markcus, YETI PACK, and Shahrizal.
LEW – ‘In Time feat. Marian Carmel’
In word and sound, the parameters of LEW’s artistic universe are clearly defined. But why the scope of either feels infinite is because of the sheer richness of his musical vocabulary. On this new one, featuring Marian Carmel, he presents us an ideal at the outset and later dismantles it: “Home is where the heart’s supposed to be / Found in someone else’s company”.
The more I listen to him, the more convinced I am that he views a particular idea and manifestation of loveliness as a canvas on which to flesh out its antithesis: The voices and arrangements here are self-consciously and epically lovely. But real life isn’t. That’s why this song exists. If you ever had to let someone go and wanted to feel assured in your decision to do so, best let this chorus of Earth-bound angels sing to you, let their ministrations fill up your empty home.
Joshua Simon – ‘Hush feat. Dave Anonuevo’
Joshua Simon’s debut album Filthy stands in its own pantheon as one of the best-ever releases to bear a Singaporean name. In its totality, its peerless 10-song set is imposing, gorgeous, fragile, bracing, dangerous and transcendental. Because I’m so invested in its sanctity, I was apprehensive when he told me that he was going to rework ‘Hush’, the comedown and penultimate song. But it seems my fear was unfounded.
This new version, featuring the touch of producer Dave Anonuevo, operates on a dynamic of preserving the spirit of the original but sounding utterly different. Where the source was a breath of reverence soundtracked by ray-of-light keys, its newer incarnation is a banger-minded future bass romp. As it unfolded in my headphones, I was struck by how nothing was lost to the titanic swell of sounds. Where there was once quiet acceptance of the end, there is now the cathartic embrace of its finality. How do you preserve the power of a whisper in the heart of a thunderstorm?
Gentle Bones – ‘Smile For Me’
Gentle Bones stands tall over many accolades: He was the first Singaporean musician to sell out two back-to-back shows at the Esplanade Concert Hall, and has released a collaborative album with dance music maverick, MYRNE. Last October, he released a three-track EP, and has been out of the spotlight since then. This past week, he stepped out of the shadows to release his first single in a year, ‘Smile For Me’.
There’s something very special going on with ‘Smile With Me.’ It’s a lot more upbeat than his past solo releases, but it’s a welcome change. No true artist would settle for formulaic and generic, and Bones is no different. While ‘Smile For Me’ features a heavier electronic emphasis than its predecessors – thanks in part to its co-production by MYRNE – it’s also a sign of his artistic maturity. It’s a song of revelation, and healing, and does exactly what it sets out to do. Bones’ performance and delivery drips with such conviction, that no matter how you’re feeling, you’re going to come out of listening to this track doing a lot better.
Shahrizal – ‘Freefalling’
On ‘Freefalling’, Shahrizal takes the terrifying leap of faith we’re all too familiar with – going all in into a relationship, and giving it everything you’ve got. Shahrizal is aware that things may not turn out as well as he’d like, but he’s going to risk it all anyway with lyrics that read: “Going straight for the jump now / Don’t know where I’ll land now / I’m freefall, freefalling to you.”
As if the lyrics and theme of the track wasn’t already gripping enough, the instrumentals suck you in and transport to a whole different soundscape. Dreamy sweeps, and sporadic chimes set against singularly thumping bass kicks and trap hi-hats and snares converge to create a sound that’s mesmerising and captivating.
JJ Lin – ‘As I Believe’
A dedication to Jewel Changi Airport and an apt testimony of Singapore talent, JJ Lin’s latest single ‘As I Believe’, brings veteran Singaporean musicians, namely Dick Lee who worked on the lyrics and arranger Goh Kheng Long, together in a dazzling, head-on collision.
‘As I Believe’ is a blooming, glorious ode to an effulgent future. Doused with a shimmering idealism that gleams particularly bright in our modern city state today, JJ Lin’s soaring vocals lend weight to the core of the track which is tender yet unyielding. The optimism weaved through the ballooning layers of sound – tinkling keys that build into full-bodied harmonies – is simply inescapable.
YETI PACK – ‘VOODOO’
YETI PACK’s vision of rap is charged with wit and a tongue-in-cheek misappropriation of Asian culture. Following their playful track ‘FENGSHUI’ in lieu of Lunar New Year, packed with Oriental elements and deafening beats, the crew has returned with ‘VOODOO’.
On this Halloween special, they take turns to spit verses over DJ Boey’s atmospheric trap beats drenched in laid-back 808s. The enthralling hooks saturate the track with an ineludible air of mystery as the four emcees spill their poetics about a mythical, succubus-esque character who enchants, bewitches and pulls them under her spell.
Leon Markcus – ‘Princess’
It may not sound like it but ‘Princess’ is a protest song. A postmodern fist raised at the false narratives that have taken root in society after years of dutiful enforcing by those invested. Leon may dress up his rage in Technicolour synths and dizzying drops but the larger arc of this song demands answers of the “liars” that are allowed to run free. Obviously, how you feel about this song indicates alignments that extend beyond music. But if you could dance in the eye of a hurricane, wouldn’t you want something with edge like this?