Independent Filipino rock band Lions and Acrobats‘ new full-length album, Mundane, does make me feel like I “want to stay under the covers of this gloomy day” after having faced the realities of being human.
Released on October 21, 2017, the band’s new record has been receiving a lot of deserved buzz and support from the local Manila indie scene. Though treading very familiar genre cliches, the album definitely lives up to its title in its lyrical relatability and genuineness. Being human has never been better.
The album’s opening track, Telephone, is a powerful song that does not take too much from Mundane’s other tracks. It leaves room for the rest of the album to breathe and astonish without compromising a strong and solid introduction.
Speaking of lyrical content and themes, the album definitely makes you feel human. It is very relatable. It tries to deal with balancing fantasy and reality, which is something that we all as humans do. I love Icoy’s honesty and vulnerability in his lyrics. You definitely feel the emotions behind falling in love, losing her, and trying to wake up from the dreams and mess that you are.
Evident through the song Bed, waking up in the morning has never been harder. I love this song because of how it shows that, sometimes, waking up in the morning is not due to laziness, but due to all the hell that you’re going through in life. We may be caught up in our fantasies, our dreams for something better, that we can’t wake up. We suddenly lose our minds along the way despite how reality is literally right at our fingertips. Bed is a wake-up call to the harsh truth that dreams are not the ultimate.
Many of the songs deal with love and heartbreak. For instance, Whiskey deals with long distance relationships and how hard it is to be so far away from the one you love. Kite is all about lovingly supporting each other in a relationship (with Dee Cruz’s vocals, it pulls on your heartstrings like crazy). Photographspeaks of heartbreak and the need to move on.
The album also deals with other things besides love, heartbreak, and relationships. Car talks about leaving the city for a bit and finding release in the countryside. Something many of us dream of doing. Cash is all about city traffic, long work days, theft, and the stressfulness of the norm (emotionally boosted by Jim’s sax). Orange talks about family and how important our households are to us as people. Cloud speaks of broken friendships and trying to save what’s left of it. Drum shows us the reality that someday we do have to grow up and leave our childhood behind. Cheque is a hopeful yet grim revelation of how hard it is to work and earn a living.
Really, the album is so real in talking about these aspects of being human and mundane. Its themes beautifully envelop the album as a whole. With lyrics like “Fate, why have you been so hard on me?” “Can we save what’s left of us?” “It’s been a pleasure, best of luck, make us proud.” and “I need to wake up.”, who won’t feel mundane after allowing these words to touch our hearts and feelings? All kudos to the lyrical prowess of Lions and Acrobats.
Sadly, here’s the bad news. Once the album’s narrative progresses, it slowly gives in to genre cliches and musical familiarity. This is evident from the first song to the last. Though, the album’s lyrics detail the hardships of falling in love, the struggle of waking up from dreams, and the reality of life, the arrangement and composition of the songs were definitely things that I’ve heard before within the mainstream pop-punk and rock context.
When I first listened to the album, I literally only had one recurring comment for every track: “I have heard this before.” And during my second and third listening, I still kept on coming back to that same conclusion.
That is not a good thought to have when listening to music, especially when you can’t stop criticising it. There has to be a proper balance between familiarity and uniqueness. Too much familiarity, you lose creativity and quality. Too much uniqueness, you lose relatability and engagement. Lions and Acrobats definitely struggled with balancing these two aspects of songwriting as they leaned more towards familiarity. And that led to the album dragging too much.
Another critique that I have is that almost every song in Mundane has a build-up with emotional drumbeats, booming guitar strums, and a solid bass line. I’m not saying that musical build-ups are bad. Build-ups are great when they are used sparingly, precisely, and thoughtfully. But because they were used too much, they never really landed well, especially with the album’s latter tracks. And so I felt unsatisfied when the build-ups finally crescendoed to a climax.
In conclusion, the album definitely proves the two definitions of its title.
- It does make you feel every mundane reality through its precise and relatable lyrics
- It is also dull and dragging because there really isn’t much that sets it apart from mainstream pop-punk or rock.
But, mark my words. Once that first second drops, you are set off on a journey into the reality of being mundane…
The reality of being human.
And that is the best slap-in-the-face a person could ever have in their life.
Cover photo by Electronic Buddha Visuals on Facebook
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