In this edition of 5-on-5, we're featuring Taylor Swift with her wonderful new single, a trap/R&B EP by Malaysian rappers GARD WUZGUT, a shiny new song by Rozella, and a no-nonsense riot by Eat Shit and Die.
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Birdie - Gypsy!
GENRE: ALTERNATIVE ROCK / POP PUNK / HARD ROCK RELEASE DATE: 5 AUG 2019 .Based on all of their singles, Gypsy! from Klang, Selangor (not to be confused with Wicked Gypsy ) frolics around the field of hard rock and pop punk. The Frankenstein-ing of these genres sometimes pay off, other times it feels a bit botched as the heaviness of the riff gets intermittently squeezed by an unnecessarily polished production. Birdie leans closer towards functionality. You can feel the snark shooting out of the la la la’s in the chorus. There is vigorous personality in Nicka’s vocals and the rest of the Gypsy! clan. Although the vocals feel too clean at times, the chanting, raw delivery of the hook manages to prevent some of that personality from fading. Birdie’s real problem lies in its bipolarity, where pop punk sentiments oddly transition into hard rock tropes like choir-like vocal solos. There’s a creative parallel to early 2000s bands from the “friendlier” side of metal that refuses to sit within the nu metal genre but trips into it anyway, like in Breaking Benjamin or Flyleaf. Unfortunately, Birdie is too subdued to leave much impact. RATING: 3 / 5
CPR (Club Perenang Rohani) EP - GARD WUZGUT
GENRE: TRAP / HIP HOP / R&B
RELEASE DATE: 15 AUG 2019
In CPR, GARD perfects his autotune persona on top of richer productions and a stronger sense of narrative in his new project with Wuzgut. His feature in his collaboration with Kidd Santhe that came out earlier this year called "API" showcased his comical and lighthearted side, so with CPR it feels like a more intimate and personal release, surrounding soulful contemplations. Wuzgut and Gard’s chemistry with each other is less “good cop, bad cop” and more “birds of a feather”. Like the title suggests, it carries the theme of being able to breathe again, while surfing the waves of spiritual serenity represented by the retro vibes in the EP. Gard stated in a press statement: “Once it [love] is channeled to your life, it will flow in your body til the end of time. Never regret the choices you made. Maybe from her you learn to be generous, patient, and loving. Don't worry, “No matter how deep the void is, there will be hands to catch you””. This is most eloquently manifested in the second leg of the album, with sunkissed synths in Senja and a cool feature by Attune that adds a warm laid-back vibe to the track. This motif marches on with joyful determination in Wonderland, a straightforward declaration of love that’s actually bettered by pitched vocals. What CPR lacks is in the first half of the EP, when the ordinariness of Mesin Masa messes with the mortal chills the introduction gave you in Trip Malis. The heavy-handed, almost ominous, monologue about treating people like they’re human beings instead of disposable objects is captivating but is quickly replaced by a generic, nocturnal trap beat that only feels barely contributed by Quai. It takes it up a notch in Sorry if Rindu but only comes to full fruition as the guitars on Senja lights up. A good EP for people looking for some decent alternative R&B and trap, and the intro definitely sets the mood for the rest of the track list.
RATING: 3.5 /5
FAV TRACK: Senja, Wonderland
Honeydew - Rozella
GENRE: R&B / POP / NU DISCO
RELEASE DATE: 16 AUG 2019
From the moment the bassline comes in, you can feel an uninhibited sense of happiness bursting into life. Honeydew is one of the Sabahan artist’s more solid cut, as everything comes together to serve one wonderful emotion - sweet, sultry romance. You can see the light beaming in between the vocal harmonies, the trumpets and the wholesome expressions of admiration that beckons older city pop days while still staying incomparably Rozella.
4.5 / 5
Speedo - Eat Shit and Die
GENRE: HARDCORE PUNK
RELEASE DATE: 16 AUG 2019
All it takes is 1 minute and 40 seconds for this call to vengeance against corrupt, aggressive authority to work. Blasted drums, distorted guitars, blowing out pent-up steam against The Man. SPEEDO is a track off of their upcoming release, DGAF, and unlike their previous single Done, there are no twist and turns here. Eat Shit and Die knows no bullshit, and is sticking to the same hardcore ethos they've been holding on to since it's ever been possible to show a middle finger to the world. And they don't give a fuck.
4 / 5
Lover - Taylor Swift
RELEASE DATE: 16 AUG 2019
Taylor Swift's return to her more bare-bones singer-songwriter roots makes me all fuzzy inside. I can see why it could come off as trite or a bit vanilla, but the hook is sweet and charming. The soft nostalgia in her casual mentions of sleepovers and dirty jokes feels like Taylor taking her early work and framing it from a more mature perspective, elevated by the contributions of Jack Antanoff on production with subtle string crescendos and a simple waltzy undertone. It's Taylor Swift serenading her memories and everything that she's become. The Lover in this scenario doesn't just feel personal (even though it is about her boyfriend of 3 years, Joe Alwyn), but also a catchall for everything that has made her who she is. Instead of being generic, it's Taylor Swift at her most grounded and sincere in a very long time. And she's inviting all of us to this romantic reverie with "guitar string scars on her hands, as she takes this magnetic force of a man". Goddamn, this is going to be everyone's wedding song this year, isn't it? Her album of the same name is coming out 23 August.
4 / 5