'Candor' - W/SH [EP REVIEW]
In effervescent bursts of catchy power pop, W/SH builds a genuine bridge between retro-obsessed indie rock and the raw, adolescent emotionality of pop-punk.
RELEASE DATE: 5 APR 2020 GENRE: POWER POP / INDIE ROCK
Honesty is a cliche and saying “honesty is a cliche” is also a cliche and I’m not going to waste my time anymore extolling the corny virtues of W/SH (pronounced ‘wish’) and his songwriting, which are often products of his personal experiences in relationships. It’s in the title, folks. The title Candor fits the lyricism in this EP perfectly, since there are no flashy metaphors or elaborate narratives. These are punchy pop songs with no shame that come straight from W/SH’s treasure trove of feelings and emotions that range from the pubescent to the existential. The center of Candor’s appeal is its production. As DIY as everything is, Candor has a way of making the unpolished bedroom pop aesthetic sound big and anthemic. Track-by-track, they sound like an opening tune to an action cartoon or a song from an endearing romantic indie film soundtrack put together. Big gated drum reverbs kick off Manusia like an epic 80s pop ballad until you hear the vocals come in, and then it transforms into a pop punk plea for forgiveness (“Ku hanyalah manusia” [I’m only human]). It’s this seamless collage of audio templates from two different musical decades that make Candor a continuously fresh listen.
Aku, Engkau dan Dia (writing out the song title without singing it is hard) has a magnetic arrangement with warm guitar licks and retro synth passages. A song about a love triangle enhanced by instrumentation and the kind of guilt-ridden teenage angst often fueled by excessive determination (“Maafkan aku, aku tak mampu tunggu, aku perlu kejar” [Forgive me, I can’t possibly wait, I need to chase”]). My favourite track off of Candor is Impianku, with a spot-on guitar solo and infectious trumpet fills. It’s also fun to see the return of the first W/SH single ever released, Tertanya-tanya, which still maintains its sheen. (see our track review of Tertanya-tanya) W/SH’s vocals on these tracks also adds to the EP's charm. They’re not incredibly individual, but they serve the right amount of emotionality and spirit that completes the package of pop mastery in Candor. Even with his ubiquity in the Malaysian pop punk (since he is also a part of Sungai Petani band, I Lost The Plot), W/SH’s quality as a solo artist should not be underestimated as just another DIY bedroom pop project. And just like other EPs you hear that houses a promising up-and-coming talent, the only real gripe with Candor is its short duration. I’ve made this comparison countless times before. But with YouTube or Spotify algorithms spewing out recommendations, jangly indie pop-rock has saturated the landscape with sameness. Occasionally you find some with redeeming qualities like profound lyricism or just compositions with a knack at creating earworms. Candor is another unique option to explore - the answer to people whose ‘Recommended’ list includes Grey Sky Morning, Peach Pit, Neckdeep and maybe, Phil Collins. FAV TRACKS: Impianku RATING: 4.5 / 5