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 Vandetta, Charlie Lim, Chok Kerong and Tim De Cotta, YAØ, Gareth Fernandez, SAYVERE, Houg, Maricelle and Yaffle, Opus Renegade, and KEAT and ZIONN.
Vandetta – ‘Not Your B feat. Charlie Lim, Chok Kerong and Tim De Cotta’
This song is one of those times negation is the source of so much sublime joy and celebratory energy. Forget, for a moment, that Vanessa Fernandez, whose rich, superlatively gorgeous cheat-code of a voice is a blessing, is its mouthpiece and that a veritable trinity of Singaporean music’s most esteemed musicians chime in with their respective instruments. Listen to the stratosphere-destined convergence of disparate sounds – behold the head-turning attitude with which they take a sledgehammer to toxic relationships. Vandetta holds the torch for women here but her words are universally relevant – and her finality is awe-inspiring.
Pop, funk, soul, jazz are different names for the same thing. When you encounter transcendence like this, you don’t split hairs over names. You sit up and you start moving, living and being different.
Houg – ‘ICBM’
Houg has sniffed blood.
It’s not just that he contextualises courtship as a predatory “game for two” but that he has found the most sophisticated and evolved incarnation of his utterance. From the outset, his approach has been knowing, subversive and dashingly original. On ‘ICBM’, it manifests as a smooth-as-they-come soundscape, with an exquisite after-hours ambience. Loungey sworls of bass, guitar twinkles and hyper-smooth synth accents add to the heaving sensual energy that underpins it. At its centre is Houg’s resplendently emotive voice, the vessel of the lament, “I can’t be myself”.
The obviousness of its proximity to its more popular usage, as “Intercontinental Ballistic Missile”, is but another sumptuous layer in this reflexive nod to how songs that speak of love’s alienating effects can be sexy, mournful and revelatory all at once. Here, Houg winks at the listener, affirming our collective and total complicity in love's cat-and-mouse thrall.
YAØ – ‘Love & City Lights’
This song will change lives.
It’s very obviously meant for that special someone – the someone to whom you have said / will say the following words to: “I want you forever”.
Befitting the monumentality of all-or-nothing declarations, YAØ’s expression is so emphatically sincere, you can almost picture him blushing though his impassioned verses. More than his production savvy, his effortlessly striking emotional honesty is what underlines his rep as Singaporean pop music’s boy wonder. Even though his pledge of love rests on a deluxe mesh of soulful, symphonic sounds, not an iota of it is overwhelmed by his largesse. There are many ways to say “I love you” – and he goes though a lot of them here – but you risk it all when you go big.
But, sure of his love and totally in love, YAØ doesn’t seem to care whether the odds are in his favour. He knows – and that’s enough.
SAYVERE – ‘She Said’
'She Said’ is SAYVERE’s second single of 2019, following ‘Rewind’, which was released earlier this year. Despite the time gap between the two releases, it’s like SAYVERE never let his foot off the throttle.
He turns in a track that fits in perfectly with its predecessor, while showing off subtle hints of improvement. The track, which is about how we often speak without thinking about the weight our words carry, and their repercussions, is thematically heavy, but manages to make the topic seem all the more lighter with its bright synths and chorus. The songwriting structure on the track is a lot more straightforward than its predecessor, but features clearer engineering and production quality. It’s an easy listen, and a great one at that. Should SAYVERE’s following releases follow in the same vein as ‘She Said’, we’re looking at one of the one of the best producers in Singapore.
Gareth Fernandez – ‘Run feat. Lincey’
Gareth Fernandez staked a claim with his previous releases that he is one of Singapore’s most crucial pop voices. ‘Run’ cements that. While ‘Run’ isn’t anywhere near its R&B predecessors, this time shaking things up for an electro-pop single, the track effortlessly shows of Gareth’s vocal prowess. Linking up with producer Lincey for the dancey track, he beams the listener with the ray-of-light-melodies a bright, poppy drop. Lincey’s production value on the track is impeccable. There isn’t anything on the track that sounds unnecessary or excessive.
‘Run’ shows the best of both Gareth and Lincey.
MARICELLE - ‘MOOD feat. Yaffle’
MARICELLE has returned with a spacey new track ‘MOOD’, almost two years after her debut EP Pursuit, in collaboration with Japanese producer Yaffle. Marked by an introspective and emotional depth, her music pulsates with a wistful and gentle sonic edge, intensified by her poetics of belonging.
Shrouded in an air of melancholy, ‘MOOD’ occupies the space between pop and R&B. With her signature, lilting vocals, MARICELLE croons, intentionally sultry and dragged-out, over warbling keys, synthesised bass and laid-back beats. Doused in wanderlust, she wallows in nostalgia and longing for more than just a physical space, but ultimately for a meaningful connection.
Opus Renegade - ‘Hollywood Life’
Opus Renegade has consistently proven his aptitude for hard-hitting, blazing tracks with his versatile blend of old-school boom bap and trap.
In ‘Hollywood Life’, he takes a dreamier, almost wistful approach, weaving a striking idealism into his riveting chronicle of his vagaries of fame, success, and finally the pinnacle goal of a Hollywood dream. With a contrast between tinkling keys and heavy kick drums, he steadily tilts the balance from his rose-tinted worldview towards an all-encompassing atmosphere of unease and cynicism.
KEAT, ZIONN - ‘Leed Me On’
KEAT uses love to paint on his sonic canvas. While romance is an often too-reliable artistic fodder, he effectively pulls us into his orbit with his lyrical gravity and eclectic blend of modern pop, R&B and jazz, and we feel compelled to stay.
“Baby I’ll be living well without you / And I’m glad we are through” – ‘Leed Me On’ is an unmistakable ode to self-love in the face of the flakiness of modern romance today. Concealing a vulnerability under an infectious, uptempo pop beat drenched in 808s, this track belies a certain frustration, as well, and sees KEAT transforming a forlorn experience into an empowering one. The track unfurls from gentle crooning in falsetto into a rap segment that, though feels out of place, is a crucial part of the structural integrity of the song, before finally closing with a metaphorical mic-drop without a backward glance.