Long overdue review of Sugarfree's third album "Tala-arawan". I'm no music critic, and I don't know sh!t about the technical chuchu of these things. Basta ang sa akin, songs convey emotions, so yun nalang siguro ang ikukuwento ko dito. Besides, we're talking about Sugarfree. Imposibleng wala kang maramdaman kapag pinakinggan mo ang mga kanta nila.
Mahaba nga pala ito, proceed at your own risk :D
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As a whole, the album has been described as something between the rawness(?) of "Sa Wakas" and the fullness of "Dramachine". This has also been tagged as the band's best album so far. And I am definitely agreeing on that one. The packaging is simple and sincere. Mukha talagang tala-arawan ("diary/journal") yung album; handwritten pa talaga yung lyrics and thank-you's and whatnot, kaya mukha silang journal entries. There's even a blank page in the beginning para pag nagpa-autograph ka nung CD dun sila pwede pumirma hehe.
In an article I read (see the link at the end of this review), it was revealed that the band almost broke up. Mitch left to have more time with his son; Jal was planning to leave because of law school; Ebe couldn't write songs for almost a year and a half. But then when Ebe finally came up with the new songs, ang gaganda nila that it helped Jal decide to stay in the band. Mitch really left Sugarfree, but was replaced by a very capable Kaka Quisumbing who is just as talented (and not to mention just as cute) as Mitch. Add to the roster legendary producer Robin Rivera, who was Ebe's former prof at UP, as well as the producer of all Eheads albums. With a lineup like that - revitalized members doing what they do best, and a very knowledgeable mentor guiding them - the product which is Tala-arawan is nothing less than spectacular.
A lot of people have been saying that this song sounds like a jingle for a telecom company. Though there is some truth to that, I hope everyone can look past that, because that is so not what this song is about. It's a genuine, heartfelt letter to a Dear Kuya in Canada. It's a happy-sad song, nakakaaliw pakinggan. Kasi nakakalungkot nga naman na malayo sa iyo ang mga mahal mo sa buhay, pero yung mga hirit kasi ni Ebe sa kuya niya eh nakakaaliw rin kasi - babalaan ba naman si kuya na tataba siya dun, or i-cheer ba naman si kuya sa kanyang pag-iingles. Hehehe. This song reminds me of my kuya and his wife in Singapore, and their two adorable little girls. I miss them so much, but it's just sweet that they're coming home for Christmas soon - soon, as in *tonight*! =) Parang Kuya Dennis ni Ebe. Kung kelan lumabas itong kanta na 'to about him being far away, saka siya uuwi para magbakasyon sa Pinas hehe. Oh yeah, the band mentioned kanina sa in-store performance nila sa Music One ATC na "Dear Kuya" daw yung next single.
Kailan Ka Ba?
Initially reminded me of John Mayer's "Love Song for No One". Though there's a line here na wala si John Mayer at napa-awww ako: "Kung ika'y dumating, kailangan tanggapin na baka 'di ka naman maging akin." I appreciated this song more when I got to the end of the album (see "Ikaw Pala").
Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin
On the day I purchased the album, I immediately texted my friends: "Kung hindi ka na babalik, araw-araw na akong gigimik. Kung malayo ka na ay malaya na ako. Ngunit ang kahapon ko ay bihag pa rin ng alaala mo. - This is why I love Ebe Dancel. May Tala-arawan na ako! :)" This was a very good choice for a carrier single. Witty lyrics, catchy tune. Epitome of Sugarfree. Tsaka bongga ha, simultaneous debut sa radio stations ol ober da pilipins! San ka pa? :P And the vid is cute too.
My favorite track on the album (though this is just a fine notch above the other favorite tracks, hehe). For some reason, the intro reminded me of some background music used in Zelda (yung SNES version nung game, ewan ko anong official name ng game na yun). The way Ebe sings this song, especially the chorus part, reminds me of the heartbreaking chorus of "Martyr" from "Dramachine". At astig kasi prequel pala ito ng "Unang Araw" from "Sa Wakas".
I guess this track is very much tied to Ebe's prologue in the CD sleeve. It's a really sad-sounding song, and the lyrics are as melancholic as the melody. This counts as part of my top five tracks in the album.
The theme of unrequited love is nowhere near untouched in the realm of art - songs, movies, paintings, etc have always dealt with this feeling of hopelessness. I'm pretty sure so many folks out there can relate to what Ebe is singing about here. So yeah, it's not really anything new. And yet this song will easily end up as a lot of people's favorite because the lyrics are simple yet powerful metaphors coupled with a happy tune that belies the sadness of being unloved by the love of your life.
Speaking of metaphors, this song is the king of metaphors. This simple narrative of a stroll with someone can actually be read as a couple's relationship that has eventually lost its sparkle. Ang sarap i-dissect ng kantang ito, as fellow fan Klara and I once did on YM. Buy the album if only for this song. Tapos pag-usapan natin kung gaano kaganda ang kantang ito. Go!
Another sad song. The story behind it is even sadder. Nung malaman ko kay Ebe kung paano nabuo itong kantang ito, I couldn't listen to the song again without being extra heavy-hearted. Initially si Wolfmann ang naisip ko nung marinig ko ito, but then I learned that it's about a couple forced by circumstance to be apart no matter how much they love each other. Aaah, hindi ko kaya yun! But then I also learned that the last part was written also for Wolfmann - "Pikit matang managinip, mahahanap mo ako sa isang malalim na sulok ng 'yong isip."
Ang Pinakamagaling na Tao sa Balat ng Lupa
Somesorta reminds me of "Hari ng Sablay", hehe. I've got mixed feelings about this song, though. It's amusing, because most of us know someone similar to the person being talked about in the song. But at the same time I'm also saddened because indeed there are people like that, and they have no real, close friends because they're like that. Wala lang, nakakaawa rin sila, hehe.
This was an early favorite. I'm a high school junkie. I'm addicted to anything high school - I friggin' went back to my high school to teach there! Ang saya kasi nung high school days ko. Kaya tuwang-tuwa ako that Ebe made a song for his high school friends. Tagal ko na rin gustong gumawa ng ganitong kanta o tula. Kaso nga lang I stopped writing since high school :( Ewan ko ba, my muse left me a long time ago. Binisita lang ako for one night nung college (two magnificent poems - magbuhat ba ng sariling bangko - in one night after years of nothing), tapos wala na forever. But enough about me, let's talk about Sugarfree, hehehe.
Wag Ka Nang Umiyak
Sabi ng title wag na raw umiyak, but listening to the lyrics and the way they are sung, it's hard not to get teary-eyed with this. And since I'm a sucker for sad stuff, this is part of my top 5 sa album. Ang swerte naman ng girl ni Ebe dahil para sa kanya 'tong kanta na 'to. "Wag ka nang umiyak. Mahaba man ang araw, uuwi ka sa yakap ko. Wag mo nang damdamin kung wala ako sa iyong tabi, iiwan kong puso ko sa 'yo...Hindi kita pababayaan..." To have those words sung to you... :'(
Ito yung ka-tandem nung "Kailan Ka Ba?" from the first half of the album. "Ikaw ang hulog ng langit sa puso kong napunit dahil sa dramang paulit-ulit". Awww.
Batang-Bata Ka Pa (Bonus Track)
As most of you know, this is from the hit APO tribute album released earlier this year. The version on this album is a bit longer; it includes the full outro (may word ba talaga na ganun?). Tuwang-tuwa ako pagnagre-remake ang Sugarfree. Ang galing nila mag-areglo ng mga kanta, thus effectively making it really theirs (e.g., "Pasko Na Sinta Ko" by Gary V and "Tikman" by the Eheads).
All in all, this album was very much worth waiting for. If there's one album you're buying for the year 2006, ito na siguro dapat yun. Kakaiba ang magic ng Tala-arawan =)
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This is the article I mentioned earlier, a very interesting and well-written piece by Luis Katigbak on the band and on the making of this album - http://www.pulse.ph/CMS/ViewPage.php?CMSCategoryId=6
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Stuff from their in-store performance yesterday at Music One (formerly Tower Records), Alabang Town Center:
Pics - http://mightydacs98.multiply.com/photos/album/57
Vid of "Huling Gabi" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZmiRBq54gI