ALBUM REVIEW: 'Anatomi' - Faizal Tahir
Written by Afifah "Investment banker by day, Lean In Malaysia fighter by night. Huge Faizal Tahir fan. She also retains the fact that she's not completely biased."
Twitter: @afifahmd IG: afifahmd
Anatomi, Faizal’s Tahir new album is refreshing and dynamic; it’s his best album yet
Anatomi is refreshing, dynamic and meaningful. Not only that it’s a slight divergence from Faizal’s usual sound but is also a refreshing one for Malaysia’s current music scene. Call it a breath of fresh air. Perhaps it’s because this is the first album for Faizal under his label, Faithful Music, it showcased his collaboration with new and upcoming composers in the music scene, notably Mike Chan and Ezra Kong that brings a different flavour to the current scene. Faizal clearly has full creative control over the album, even seen from the aesthetics of the album. The album cover is not free from controversy but I find it to be enlightening and beautiful, it’s like a scene from Alice in Wonderland mixed with everything that’s relevant to him in this world – the Malaysian flag, a portrait of Malala among others. The booklet accompanying the album is a delight to go through with hints about what the songs mean to him scattered around the booklet.
Now, the track-by-track reviews:
Assalamualaikum (Faizal Tahir, Omar K, Ezra Kong, Audi Mok, Mike Chan): There’s four versions of Assalamualaikum in Anatomi so don’t get overwhelmed by it (with the other 3 versions being in the bonus track). His most well-known song in the album, a “What’s Going On” or “Heal the World” kind-of-song aims to spread the message of peace as per the title; Assalamualaikum translated from Arabic means “Peace Be Upon You”. The upbeat version of the song allows you to sing along to it but it’s the slower versions of the song, being the AJL or acoustic version that allows you to really get into the meaning of the song. Warna kulit, kaum, asal usul, Jangan menilai pada rupa, Adakah matamu mengatasi akalmu? It’s a universal song, and it’s something that we all need in this world that we try to find meaning in. So it’s a major injustice that this song only won second place for the Anugerah Juara Lagu. The song was robbed, really.
Suriram (Faizal Tahir, Mike Chan): Hints of the influence of bands like Fall Out Boy (major guess) and its futuristic themes are introduced in this song. Bringing back memories of a Malay lullaby and making that as a foundation for this very modern song while still capturing the earlier mentioned theme is endearing. The song describes falling in love and the period of courting, perhaps for the first time – the wait, anticipation and infatuation. This song will draw out a smile from a girl, definitely. So so cool.
Sejati (Faizal Tahir, Mike Chan): One of the best songs in Anatomi, Sejati shines with its unpredictability and appeal to the masses. Subjective lyrics, allowing this song to be used to describe a relationship with God (Faizal personally indicated in the album the song is about his relationship with The Almighty) or any other individual while it’s unique music, appealing to the modern crowd yet still having that flavour of being a “jiwang karat” song that works so well for Malaysian radios. Think having a ballad and nasyid in one song as the perfect recipe for success. The build-up leading to the end chorus is refreshing and the guitar riff in the end just sends the message back home! Can’t say that I didn’t do a bit of soul searching after this.
Menang (Faizal Tahir, Omar K, Ezra Kong, Mike Chan): My least favourite song in Anatomi. This is the weakest link because it feels so much like the old Faizal. Not that the old Faizal is bad but it feels a bit odd and backdated for this album. Nevertheless I foresee this song will be very popular among the ladies and the Malaysian radio audiences.
Tangkap lentoq habis.
Bukan Yang Pertama (Faizal Tahir, Ezra Kong, Mike Chan): Carrying on the vibe of Suriram, this is another star in Anatomi. Smart, fun, exhilarating and playful – this is a cheeky song to remind us that the past is the past and it’s the future that matters. Note the effective use of the female backup singer nearing the end.
Sayang (Faizal Tahir, Mike Chan): Sweet and simple may at times be the best combination. Faizal clearly has a thing for lullabies and this is his best one yet (note: I still categorize Selamat Malam as his version of a lullaby, though not being apt to sing to a sleeping kid). Sayang makes you wish for a child of your own, just so that you could sing this to them as a lullaby.Setia (Faizal Tahir, Ezra Kong, Mike Chan): This version is so much better than the duet with Elizabeth Tan. This feels raw, full and complete. This is a strong ballad.
Negaraku performed by Faizal Tahir, Sonaone, Joe Flizzow & Altimet (Faizal Tahir, Ezra Kong, Mike Chan, Sonaone, Joe Flizzow & Altimet): One of the five bonus tracks in the album before Dirgahayu and the 3 versions of Assalamualaikum, this is the trio’s love song to the nation. Released right before 31st August 2016 to commemorate Malaysia’s Independence Day, this song is timely with the current political climate – reminding us Malaysians that together we are strong as one, that despite the obstacles we have to give all that WE CAN to serve this wonderful nation of ours. Hatiku tetap hanya padamu, Keranamu aku berdiri, tanpamu cita-cita hanya kekal sebagai mimpi, Semuanya bermula dari sini. A love song to the nation it is.
Dirgahayu featuring Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza (Faizal Tahir, Ezra Kong & Mike Chan): Started as an OST for the drama Lara Aisha, this later became a hit so it’s only fitting that this duet with Malaysia’s sweetheart should also have a place in Anatomi. A song about love lost and hoping to be found; this is a very mature song. Feels wise at times. Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza’s vocal surprisingly bodes well with Faizal’s and I hope there will be more future collaborations between the two.
VERDICT: Anatomi strikes the right balance between being a fun, catchy yet meaningful album. And that’s a rare feat. If you’re not a fan of Faizal Tahir, checking out some of his songs that carries that universal message of love and peace is a strong enough reason why you should experiment by buying or streaming it on your digital music platforms. Sokonglah artis tempatan kita lebih-lebih lagi kepada mereka yang layak menerima sokongan kita.
POST-SCRIPT: Hi, it's Zim here - head of the music mag, Awful Track Record! Remember that if you guys have anything you want to write relevant to music, regardless of genre, country of origin, language, or era and you want to see it published and publicized, feel free to contact me on Twitter, @zimahmadi or via e-mail (email@example.com). Have a good day!