wide ange

Ang Bandang Shirley – Favorite
(2017; Wide Eyed Records Manila)


I

“parang slo-mo: makulay”

There are times when it is necessary to unravel the complexity of historiography to find analogues from an age that exists only in archives in order to construct a recognizable narrative for present mass consumption, but each repetition is different. There are times when striking parallels are drawn between cherished refrains from the annals of time and clusters of notes form the song of time in motion, and it sometimes appears that both are segments of the same piece transposed a few octaves up or down to add color to the same theme, but this does not account for context, for specificity. Each repetition is made different by its situatedness, its environment; the melody interacts – taken in this case as a singular entity – with all that surrounds it. A simplistic yet effective way to comprehend this would be thinking of the chorus of any pop song: the first verse breathes its spirit into the clay of the first chorus, but this selfsame collection of words and sounds is altered by the second verse. Each repetition is different.


II

MY GUT REACTIONS TO THE ALBUM

- Maganda yong tunog; a huge improvement from Tama Na Ang Drama in terms of production
- Walang kantang mahina; everything feels connected and feels like it is meant to be experienced as a sprawl
- Ang haba pero hindi naman nakakapagod; siguro dahil maayos yong arrangement ng tracks
- Still not sure if Favorite is my favorite release of theirs; tuwang-tuwa pa rin ako sa Themesongs pero ibang-iba na yong orientation at scope nito

TRACK BY TRACK
1. Maningning - sakto bilang opener; is that a synth somewhere? oh it doesn’t matter it’s cool
2. Umaapaw - whoa man maganda yong pasok i don’t wanna write about this track anymore because everyone else was doing it when it was initially released
3. Karamay - ouch
4. Makahiya -  i think this is the first time i actually heard this one; it doesn’t sound like a single, and it’s a nice break from the bombardment of the first three tracks; sakto yong piano and the bass in particular is powerful
5. Alam Mo Ba? (Ang Gulo) - hindi ko alam
6. Siberia -  sounds a lot better in its current situation; honestly, hindi ko talaga trip yong kanta when it was released as a single, but here it feels like it strengthens the contrast between the tracks, i think it was placed perfectly in its current position

7. Maginhawa - wonderful guitar tones; ganda ng intertextuality ng lyrics as in tumaas yong balahibo nung narining ko yong self-reference apir men ang saya; also reminiscent of the first album [which i honestly liked more than the second], pero halatang may development sa tunog; ito yong pinaka nakakatuwang kanta sa album so far

8. Relihiyoso - surprise Frank Ocean technique
9. Favorite - not surprised that this happens to be my favorite track
10. Actually - surprise Broken Social Scene You Forgot It In People-era technique
11. Ilang2x - tanginang ending yan ang saya pero akala ko nasira yong CD player namin; it would be even more worrying if this were a cassette, which wouldn’t be a bad idea for an eventual reissue
12. Ono - i thought this was several different songs melded into one, so the usually intimidating 9- minute time frame didn’t feel like it was that long; glad about this showing up as track 12 instead in the penultimate or final position
13. Palindrome - this one doesn’t sound like a single and that’s what’s appealing about this one
14. Karagatan - surprise Broken Social Scene retrain nice one

BONUS TRACKS

I feel like the differences in bonus tracks radically alter the structure; “Erika” functions like “Cutterpillow” – a short breather before deciding to repeat everything once again – and “Wealth of Nations” feels more like exit music, punctuating the preceding 14 tracks, bringing the album to a close. I do not know which one I prefer.


III

“ang daming nangyayari: isang daan”

It is surprisingly simple to herald the second coming of the Eraserheads; all you have to do is engineer and edit your argument well enough to fit into certain parameters. The case can be made for Shirley, but a similar case can be made for artists such as Up Dharma Down (I still refuse to abbreviate!!!), Autotelic, and (as much as it pains me to say this) Sud. (Ironically, none of the Eraserheads’ projects make the shortlist; the reason is simple: each repetition is different. Even when the four convened to play an unannounced set a while back, they said they were not the Eraserheads.) The problem with drafting a statement proclaiming an arrival as monumental as the Eraserheads, however, is how contemporary media operates; everything is happening all of the time, and it is impossible to rally under a single banner. Print media has gone online and is open to more immediate scrutiny, and it is quite difficult to take listicles, quizzes, and anything too seriously; the 90s will not happen again.

Yet it feels as though no other band has felt like it belonged to more people than Ang Bandang Shirley: no cathartic choruses express general sentiments as well as their singles, no album release party had the sweltering urgency like theirs. It seems that this is due to their ability to connect with a number of individuals spanning generations and countless other divisions, and each of their listeners finds a way to work their songs into the narratives of their own lives. Each repetition is different.

- Itos Ledesma