CD reviews: Romantic Kamikazee, fresh Emmanuelle
Despite the affectionate reference in its title, Kamikazee ‘s latest album starts with a bang before cruising to riffs reminiscent of their biggest hit, “Narda.” “T.N.T.” follows, driven by a punk backbeat and punctuated by staccato lead chords.
The next batch of songs ricochets with the highly contagious punk-pop of Blink 182, The Ataris and Fall Out Boy. The band even punks an otherwise disposable ballad, “If You’re Not Here.” However, the final track, “Huling Sayaw”, a duet between vocalist Jay Contreras and Kayla, seems over-long and too maudlin for a band that has no qualms delivering tinnitus-inducing loud rock.
On record, Kamikazee play to their strengths. Live, they transform into a different animal altogether. The band’s intense playing finds a perfect foil in the funny antics of Jay Contreras.
So, oi!, nothing romantic about this album, even though all of the songs deal with finding and losing love.
Kamikazee get their high delivering anthems for the deaf and dumb. Long may they keep kicking out the jams!
Pretty-faced newcomer Emmanuelle has a soft and sweet voice that she can only sing happy tunes. Unfortunately, she has such thin voice such that her sensitive singing often gets downed out by the backing band.
A song titled “Dear Dairy” can either be a confessional ballad or a swooning pop number depending on the emotions being invested by the performer. With 17-year old Emmanuelle’s wispy voice, there’s no telling what she’s singing about so it falls short in getting empathy from the listener.
In “Sandali Lang,” she draws from some inner force to rise above the music. Emmanuelle initially gets proper backing from a lone piano and she subsequently does her best diva form as the full band pushes the music to a crescendo. It’s almost the same deal with the dance-pop track “Sarap Mabuhay” except that she doesn’t t sound all that joyous in a life-affirming song.
The final verdict on this aspiring singer will be made when she takes her music live and in concert.
"Master of Imperfection"
This is the solo album of the singing half of Fra Lippo Lippi, erstwhile new wave stalwarts from Norway. It’s filled with melancholic songs with two remakes of the duo’s better known hits, “Beauty and Madness” and “Later.”
But where Fra Lippo Lippi borrows from the gloom and doom of Joy Division and their post-punk contemporaries, Sorensen has elected to be a post-new wave balladeer. Backed by more conventional instruments (mostly piano as opposed to the dreary electronics of Fra Lippo Lippi), he has also chosen to be another post-millennial solo entertainer.
His full measure as a balladeer is best exemplified by “The Truth Behind Our Lies” as well as “Loneliness” where he clearly enunciates the burden of existential longing while the session band sets the up the proper atmosphere via piano, violin and brushed drums. He fails though to reclaim James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” into his current musical image.
In fairness, Per Sorensen is doing what he does best. There’s not much variety on offer on “Master of Imperfection” yet it is proof that sticking to a proven sound can be a source of fleeting pleasures.