More quickfire opinions on recent singles from the region from Azzief and Fikri on this week’s edition of Singled Out. From The Impatient Sisters’ new ballad “Hopeless” to Leo Ari’s welcome return with “Manic Panic”, via new songs from Indonesia’s well-liked Jirapah and new Singaporean band Coming Up Roses, there’s probably something for everyone in this batch. Hopefully.

The Impatient Sisters – Hopeless

Azzief: I’m not fundamentally opposed to slow, maudlin music, but this is just almost entirely beige and wallpaper that I just can’t find anything to like about it. Ok, the production is fine, the vocals are all technically spot-on, but the whole song just passes by like a whole load of nothing. It’s nice, I guess, but I find niceness (on its own) in music to be particularly unexciting and not worthy of being an end in itself. 5/10

Fikri: “Hopeless” is more melancholic in comparison to the majority of their previous tracks and releases, something that caught me off guard although the song title did give me a sense of what the song would be about. The vocal harmonies and production are polished and work with the song. The track also features Farez Khan (of electronica outfit Dangerdisko), but I wish he was a bit more prominent in the track beyond backing vocals. 7/10

Jirapah – Menjamur

Azzief: The opening blast of feedback caught my ears immediately, and while I was very slightly disappointed that the rest of song wasn’t nearly as noisy as its first few seconds, it’s still a solid song overall. Bouncy yet breezy, with the right amount of confidence needed to pull off this somewhat-jangly indie rock sound. Great guitar melodies, too. “Menjamur” is definitely the sound of a band that knows what they’re doing. 7/10

Fikri: There’s a lot of new things happening for this indie / post-punk band from Jakarta: their first new single in a long time,  their first single in Indonesian, and a new lineup (more of a reshuffle really). “Menjamur” flows right, and has a balance amount of jangly lines, fuzz, and feedback. It did take me a couple of listens to get it, but when I did, it lingered for a while. Looking forward to more from them. 8/10

NJWA – Take Love Back

Azzief: “Take Love Back” is suitably huge and arena-sized, befitting NJWA’s vocal prowess. I can definitely see this appealing to her core fanbase and many more besides, but, as you might have guessed from the way this sentence started, it’s not quite for me. I don’t dislike anything about it beyond the production, which sounds a bit too compressed for my ears, but it didn’t quite win me over, either. Might have to catch this live to really “feel” it. 6.5/10

Fikri: NJWA’s latest single, “Take Love Back” really highlights her vocal prowess, something that I would imagine could induce goosebumps in a live setting (happened to me before). I didn’t quite expect the chorus-breakdown parts, but it adds dynamics to the track, which keeps it interesting. 8/10

Coming Up Roses – Fall

Azzief: It’s okay. That’s really all that I feel like I can say about this song. Sure, the vocal melodies remind me a bit too much of the bad old (but somewhat nostalgic) days of radio rock in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but there’s nothing about this that really offends. Sadly, there’s also nothing about this that’s memorable or exciting. One of those songs (and bands) I’ll probably struggle to remember in a week or so. 4/10

Fikri: There’s something familiar about “Fall” that I can’t quite put my ear on. It could be that it’s a little formulaic in a sense that they are referencing their influence a bit too closely, or something that I’ve heard on the radio / MTV from the early 2000s. 5/10

Leo Ari – Manic Panic

Azzief: This is pretty rich of me to say, but I was (and remain) quite turned off by Leo Ari’s pronunciation, given how up front the vocals are. I know, I know, it’s 2019 and we’re all supposed to “own” whatever we are but it’s still a bit of an issue for me. His performance is fine, however, and the song itself is pretty good. It has a lot of good touches, the production is solid, and I like the flow and how it features something of a linear progression instead of the usual verse-chorus-verse repetition. The laid-back middle section does run a bit too long for my tastes, but it adds to the impact of the crescendo. 7/10

Fikri: After some time off, its good to see Leo Ari releasing new music. A well produced and polished track (with a great looking music video), and an arrangement that progresses throughout the song. The track also features Takahara Suiko (The Venopian Solitude) and Leaism on backing vocals, which I find interesting. However, his pronunciation doesn’t sit very well in the track to my ears. 7/10

Author

Azzief believes in nothing and it isn't even his nothing. He also tries to write about international music, record collecting, and other such stuff over on his blog Try and Be Grateful.