Hello friends! This week we’ve got a track-by-track review of Paperplane Pursuit’s new album, Second Date, a jiwang song for karaoke bars everywhere, and lyrical acrobat’s latest single, Empty. Give them a listen and don’t forget to support local artists from all genres and popularity!
Second Date – Paperplane Pursuit
Listen to the full album here!
I remember the first time I listened to Paperplane Pursuit was their song with Darren Ashley, Beat of Your Love. Everyone who liked them commented on how good they were because they didn’t sound ‘local’. I personally despise that opinion because of what it implies, but I was pulled in by an invisible force to the song regardless. Eventually, I realized it was because of the fact that despite being your run-of-the-mill catchy pop rock song with your Tumblr-esque lyrics and childish love poetry, Beat of Your Love was a very musically interesting track. From being a cliche dance pop anthem, it became something else in the middle of the song. When it started to slow and it sounded as if the band sang through a spiral of reverbs and distortions, vocalizing their ‘Wah-ooo-wah-ooh-wah”, I was hooked. And then I was sucked in even more when it changed again during the breakdown. It was an extravagant tsunami of guitars, vocals and synths (Wherever you go you’re not alone) that gives the song replay value.
The reason I brought this up is because despite declaring themselves radio-friendly and adhering to some kind of pop ethic, Paperplane Pursuit’s Second Date has the same small moments of intrigue that can be found in Beat of Your Love.
This is most evident in the track Internet Celebrity. (We did a review on this, you can click here ). It really is not your typical pop track, in terms of its social commentary and interesting usage of speech-like audio clips (by John, the lead singer, himself). However, despite being one of the better tracks in the album, it’s so jarringly different from everything else in the record, we feel like it works better as a standalone single rather than an opening track to the listing.
The track following falls a little bit short. Woohoo has the same happy vibe as their single Who’s Gonna Stop Me?! (which incidentally is also in the album). It has that same pop rock riff from the early days before Adam Levine decided to follow the mold of 80% of the music industry. A getaway love song – Woohoo is at best adorable, but at worst, contrived.
After bracing for more of the same vibe, the band slaps you in the face wit something unexpected. From pop-riffing their way through Woohoo, Still takes a more cruise-worthy route. It is so beautiful, minimal but primes you for a fireplace scene, or staring out your car window. It is as if the road trip you went through during Woohoocame to a stand still. This instrumental experience was a wonderful change of pace, and really adds to the colour of Second Date. It actually works well as a film score too (probably a short one). Flashing lights and rain-soaked asphalt come to mind.
The seamless transition between Still and What If is proof of their attention to detail. The subject matter of the song – undying affection and love – holds nothing particularly impressive. On the other hand the bacbeat and those flying guitars that come in the 3rd minute finalizes the emotion that you feel from Still.
Just Pretend – through it’s hackneyed, polished beat – harbours poignancy in its lyricism (an almost direct contrast to what What If is). It talks about an endless, hopeless pursuit: a commentary on life’s illusions (We’re just tasting/Shadows of whatever we love).
And then this is when we notice a very clear pattern in how the album is structured – from our point of view, at least. The album alternates between its sad (or more accurately put, ‘introspective’) moments and happy moments. Who’s Gonna Stop Me ?! ,in the context of this album, sounds like they are deliberately forgetting they had an existential crisis a second before and expect you to just live through it. That is neither a positive or a negative statement, but an interesting thing to remark nonetheless. Feel Good is exactly as the title suggests and shares the same exact emotion as the track that precedes it. Honestly, besides the catchy riffs, there is nothing about it that truly stands out in the album. Due to stronger lyrical content, we feel more attached to Who’s Gonna Stop Me?!.
Another gem in this album is You (the amount of awkward moments in the office whenever somebody expresses their love for this song by saying “I like You” is ridiculous), simply because it feels raw and authentic. It is not hidden by layers of production, but sounds like a naked serenade. Due to the simplicity of the prose, it adds more genuineness to it. An actual high school teenager might have written this song, and that’s what makes it wonderfully romantic.
A Letter To My Younger Self feels even more warm and sentimental when perceived through the lens of this whole album. After the emotional ups and downs of the record, it acts like an insightful, motivational but yet surprisingly grounded conclusion to everything Second Date gives to you as a listener. This is also precisely why – despite being a decent track – Everybody Wants Somebody feels slightly superfluous. In our opinion, it pointedly ruins a sense of closure to the album. Or maybe if you think of it as those jubilant Motown songs that play at the end of early ’90s film during the credits (re: Sister Act (1992)), it comes off as more final and satisfying.
As Paperplane Pursuit‘s first real album, Second Date stands on the fence between being just an extended playlist of classic Paperplane Pursuit (clean and radio-friendly) singles, to little moments of beautiful listening pleasures with heart and thought put into it. Tracks like Internet Celebrity is snarky, acerbic but fun. The beauty of Still shows the artistic potential these guys have in really breaking out from that Maroon 5, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long era sound. I mean, how many local pop albums out there have an instrumental interlude to pace you for the vibe of the next song?
Although they proudly declare in Who’s Gonna Stop Me?! : “And I started dreaming one day I’d make/Pop for the people”, if you read in between the lines, you’ll notice they are capable of so much more than churning out Pop for the people. All of their misses and cliches aside, we hope this emotional diversity is continued on in the rest of their discography because we know it works. If you listen closely.
Disana Cinta Disini Rindu – Tajul & Wany Hasrita
Lagu ini mengikuti trend industri muzik tempatan Melayu mainstream yang mengimbas kembali zaman awal 90-an. Disini Cinta menggunakan formula rock jiwang, iaitu riff gitar elektrik yang ringkas digabungkan dengan lirik romantis buang tabiat. Boleh dinampakkan bahawa Tajul menyambung legasi abangnya, Achik Spin. Seperti mana Achik berduet dengan Nana dalam lagu Memori Berkasih, Tajul juga berduet dengan Wany Hasrita dalam genre yang sama. Barangkali semua ini kebetulan, tapi Tajul memang dengan jelasnya mengikut jejak langkah abang dia dari segi muzik.
Orang yang minat lagu-lagu macam ini sudah pasti boleh berkenan dengan Disini Cinta. Kalau pasang dekat tempat karaoke mesti best. Dari segi lirik, Disini Cinta memang ikut template puisi jiwang. Walaupun kami ship gabungan suara mereka, lagu dia sendiri tidaklah istimewa mana pun.
Empty – Juzzthin
Empty sounds like a mish-mash of mumble rap and steady hard-knocking bars, but more badly produced than Lil Uzi Vert or Migos. It’s unfortunate because there are actually plenty of great bars in this track (I do it proudly/Flow Saga tapi tekan engine Audi), but it all gets drowned out by that inoffensive, drab chorus. We would make “this chorus is empty” remark but everyone else seems to have beaten us to the chase on the Youtube comment section. The intro this song leaves a lot for wanting too. A clumsy soup of half-cooked flow. There is an interesting conversational clip that happens at the end which seems to reiterate Juzzthin‘s principles as a rapper (I am in rich in life…forever).What happened to the older days of Sunset Boulevard, where Juzzthin’s songs felt more whole and complete – in other words, the complete opposite of empty?
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