I haven't been reviewing Malaysian music for a while. And who can blame me, given the dearth of new (and worthwhile) releases of late… its a sad predicament of the local music scene. So it is with great pleasure that I start the first review of the year with Faizal Tahir’s sophomore record: ADRENALIN.
It must have been a daunting task trying to top the irresistible debut that is AKU.MUZIK.KAMU, the winner of the AIM Album of the year in 2008 as well as home to many chart topping hits. That was very much in the minds of Faizal Tahir and Audi Mok when approaching the follow-up. But, rather that treading down the tried and tested path, the dynamic duo had wisely opted to experiment a bit this time around, expanding their creative horizon’s with some surprising results.
Opening this tight record (only 8 original tracks in all) is the confident, Coldplay-esque ADRENALIN. Then things get rockin’ in SUPERHERO, the most ‘definitive’ Faizal Tahir track in the set. Then there is the stunning first single BENCINTA, with that Queen- inspired beat. Still sounds refreshingly groundbreaking after almost a year after its release. I am hoping that this track wins song of the year during this year’s AIM awards.
But things turn dark and gloomy with KARMA, representing a dramatic departure in terms of song writing and arrangement for the team. For those with a discernable ear might notice some backing vocals courtesy of Siti Nurhaliza backing vocals in there. Representing a complete turnabout, the ruckus MUZIK is of-kilter crazy in a good kinda way. The song cheekily showcases the duo wicked sense of humour and not taking everything at face value. Like the song’s Queen-esque chorus asks: Kenapa terlalu serius? Dengarlah muzik!
Rock ballads are still featured, and SELAMAT MALAM, the second single does a great job in building in on the emotions without ever being too schmaltzy. But if there is one song that is destined to be a knockout anthem is the sublime, emotionally wrought HANYUT, easily my favourite track on the album. It starts of with Faizal’s singing a capella and then slowly layering in the orchestrations. And that bridge, perhaps one of the best I heard in a Malay song, is simply ah-may-zing! For those wanting a more romantic groove, there is also a acoustic version of the song, showcasing Faizal’s earnest vocals to great effect. And as a thank you tribute to his fans, the album closes with SEMESTA, but what it makes it unique is the hidden reprise. Presented in an ‘and the band played on’ sorta way, the reprise builds on the song, with a hint of influences such as Alanis, Guns N Roses and even Prince cleverly interspersed in there.
All in all, this is a strong collection of songs showcasing the next stage of evolution of Faizal Tahir’s innovative and highly listenable brand of rock music. but, the big question is: can this album repeat the debut’s performance at the AIM awards this year? We will have to wait and see. But there is no question that Faizal and Audi had definitely deliver the goods: no sophomore slump here…
- Adrenalin (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir) ****1/2
- Superhero (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)****
- Selamat Malam (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)****
- Karma (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)***1/2
- Hanyut (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)*****
- Bencinta (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)*****
- Muzik (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)***1/2
- Hanyut [Acoustic] (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)****1/2
- Semesta (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)*****
- Semesta [Reprise] (Audi Mok/ Faizal Tahir)****1/2