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 Ffion, Richard Jansen, Rangga Jones, Stephycube, Shahrizal, Opus Renegade, Feez and Isaac Yong.
Ffion – ‘Next 2 U’
So much of contemporary singer-songwriter pop tends to drive towards digi-age, genre-agnostic, dance-ready sheen. That lane is a teemingly crowded one but Ffion is an antidote to all that homogeneity.
Last week, she released her second EP Bad Habits II, the follow-up to her 2017 eponymous debut EP, affirming the most crucial parts of her musicality that sets her apart from the flock. The stylistic shift from her earlier EP to her latest reveal is undergirded by how her devastating vocals convey the purity of her feelings, which imbue her songs with the all-crushing gravity that emo invokes so beautifully and tragically. ‘Next 2 U’ is an ode to the schizophrenia that love induces – it’s a lament of being in the no man’s land between two opposing sides: “Could we give this one last chance” and “Let’s pretend like we never met”.
That’s the last line of the song, the no-turning-back hammer-blow of finality. That it’s abrupt adds to the song’s heartbreaking impetus. And it’s so painful, you believe it.
Richard Jansen – ‘Show You Off’
On his latest song, Richard Jansen shows how an early 2000s R&B cut can sound if receives a contemporary update.
‘Show You Off’ is a heart-on-sleeve declaration of love from Jansen, delivered with the eyes-closed, arms-outstretched intensity that gives songs of this nature their undeniable universality. It’s essentially a love letter soundtracked by neo-classical R&B production with sparkling, ray-of-light pianos, propulsive 808s and choral synths conveyed with a depth of feeling that is profoundly powerful.
Isolating individual lines isn’t necessary when each one inheres to a sum total that is gloriously direct and all-encompassing in delivering one of the most sublime messages of all time: “I love you”.
Shahrizal – ‘Save Your Love’
It's only human to want the person that you fancy to reserve all their love and affection for you and no one else. That is what Shahrizal’s latest tune is all about, as it gives a groovy take on the sweet, time-honoured Boy-Meets-Girl trope. The song is an electronically driven article – Shahrizal’s manipulated yet melodic vocals are supported by a consistent marimba riff and a simple beat.
In ‘Save Your Love’, Shahrizal meets a girl who is seemingly known to be extremely independent. As the pair gets closer, she starts to doubt what is in store for them, to which the musician responds with a genius reassurance: “Not French, but I been saying "We" a lot / You and I so tight, now we in a knot”. This song is Shahrizal’s request to have a place in her heart and her life, no matter what comes their way.
Opus Renegade – ‘Differ the Flow’
The merit of Opus Renegade’s new song lies in the impeccable production levels – ‘Differ the Flow’ is a hard-hitting track packed to the brim with deep, rumbling bass and snappy 808 beats. Wailing sirens and sinister keys support Opus’ unstoppable flow as he raps in both English and Hindi. To put it simply, this song is pure heat.
If his previous single, ‘Reminisce’, is a show of his boom bap skills, then ‘Differ the Flow’ is relentless evidence of his new-school rap capabilities. He raps about how he’s “got a million voices inside”, and, for as troubling as that line is, perhaps that’s why he's able to spit in so many different forms. He’s shown how he is able to adapt to various permutations of hip-hop, and, so far, there is no limit to his storytelling range.
Rangga Jones – ‘Type of Mood’
Fast-rising local musician Rangga Jones’ venture into music has been nothing short of astounding. From his debut single ‘Beautiful Mistake’, to recent transmissions like ‘Anymore’, the singer-songwriter has displayed an admirable understanding of how to write legitimately amazing songs.
On his latest track, ‘Type of Mood’, Jones further cements that claim. The track opens with a simple count-in, before a single acoustic guitar can be heard, as Jones’ boyish vocals carry the melody of the track. Soft echoes pop up in the background, making the song sound even fuller, yet not overcrowded.
As Jones harmonises with himself, it’s apparent that his vocal range has also improved tremendously over the last four releases. Jones once again proves that less is more, and great songs don’t need to be complicated.
Feez. – ‘Lights Out’
Make way, there’s a new artist in town. While ‘Lights Out’ may only be his second single, Feez sounds like a seasoned musician. Hailing from Vancouver, he brings with him influences from the likes of The Weeknd and Drake. But he one-up’s the sound to make it his own.
The R&B track boasts a simple beat, with Feez’s vocal melodies doing most of the heavy lifting. It’s an incredibly strong performance, and makes a claim for one of the year's best singles.
Keep an eye out for his future releases, he’s bound to make a splash in the local music scene.
Stephycube - ‘Emergency Room’
"Don’t watch my body burn up / Don’t watch me go into the sea / Where you cannot follow me”
As the most poignant track in her first ever EP, Most of All, and also the most personal one, ‘Emergency Room’ conveys Stephycube’s acute sense of loss on the day her grandfather was sent to the emergency room.
Her distinct, lucid tone amplifies the grief that demands to make itself heard. With a clamouring desperation, the track propels itself almost uncontrollably towards a precipice with intensifying guitar strums and uptempo percussion. In the liminal silence that follows, her reminiscence of her grandfather’s love echoes unbearably loud. This track ends abruptly on an emotionally-charged note, mimicking the dissociation that only shock and loss delivers.
Isaac Yong - ‘深夜 Late at Night’
‘Late at Night’ marked Isaac Yong’s first step towards his music career after this original crowned him Champion of the Music Xpress Songwriting Competition in 2015. This first studio original is also a long-awaited addition to his repertoire of covers and unplugged originals on YouTube.
This deeply personal track is an ancient monologue from Isaac’s teenage self, documenting his inner turmoil and unspeakable longing for his long-distance lover back then. Saturated with an emotional depth that is only possible with a certain teenage vulnerability, ’Late at Night’ overflows with an unparalleled sincerity made wholly apparent with Isaac’s gentle, husky vocals. This song finally resolves its initial unease with tenderness: “Late at night, I’m thinking about you / Tonight, I wish to tell you / I love you”.