Well, surprise. Now it’s IV of Spades’ turn to drop an album in the middle of night, from out of the blue, although unlike with former vocalist Unique Salonga’s surprise release, we’ve heard a bunch of these songs before in recorded form. Still, it doesn’t change how exciting CLAPCLAPCLAP! feels. The energy from the get-go is irresistible; the record flows as if the three boys are saying “we cannot be stopped”, and that’s even in the slower moments. (Spotlight to the achingly beautiful album closer, “I Would Rather Live Alone”.) Some qualities here, we’ve already seen, particularly the continued mining of evergreen approaches that you’d trace from the pop-rock of the 60s and 70s. (It helps that Zild Benitez’s falsetto really reminds me of the Bee Gees, especially when they go glitterring disco.) If anything the record feels like the band’s been liberated from stylistic shackles, allowing them to explore a wider sonic palette without the burden of expectation. (That also helps to cover up the clear difference in the writing, which I expect to evolve soon – new paths and all, after all.) Perhaps the dramatic split last year served well for both parties; both Grandma and CLAPCLAPCLAP! feel essential, a rare feat for debut albums. But then, I’ll admit comparing the two is not what I should do. It does both a disservice and dilutes one important fact from both records: the future is secure. [NB] | 4/5
When I first wrote about IV of Spades last year, I was already a bit behind on the curve. But then bigger things were just coming for them: the release of “Mundo” catapulted the four-piece to crossover success, their song acceptably playing in both indie kids’ Spotify playlists and masa radio stations. But then, even bigger things happened: vocalist Unique Salonga suddenly left the band – well, not suddenly, because there were weeks of arguable drama, which saw the band’s three remaining members continue to perform before an official departure was announced in the middle of the night – and suddenly, we have two entities, creating music separately. Today, both the new IV of Spades and Unique released new singles, and because we love ourselves traction, we’re pitting the two up against each other.
Time again for my monthly catch-up with the more interesting things Philippine music has to offer, and, well… you know what I’m going to say here. But then this month’s column is a little unusual in that I have had an idea of who to write about for a while… and then let it boil, knowing there will be more ahead. I find that whenever I finish writing one of these things, one of the acts I just featured would be up to something. Guys, this doesn’t mean I have inside scoop or anything, all right?