When former IV of Spades vocalist Unique Salonga announced his first solo concert, on the back of just one single, many were skeptical. “What’s he going to do?” Nobody doubts his abilities, but why a major concert, so soon? Two weeks later, a whole album drops from the middle of nowhere, and the reaction was one of stunned awe. “It’s such a good album,” the general consensus went. You might even think they’re calling him the next Messiah or something. The reaction felt similar to when Harry Styles dropped his solo debut, although in that case his rock star tendencies were somewhat tucked away underneath One Direction’s pop sheen; IV of Spades always had that quality. With Grandma, Unique now feels liberated to tap his inner Paul McCartney, the result being languid, slightly idiosyncratic, ultimately sly pop-rock that can get to you. Can, because, let’s be honest, this album is not the second coming. It feels a bit random sometimes. But there are shades of where he can go next: “Ozone (Itulak Ang Pinto)” is a surprisingly funky groover set in the catastrophic fire that enveloped Ozone disco in 1996, while “Goodnight Prayer” sees him ruminate his mortality without really pushing it. The hope now is that the goodwill this album has provided him won’t be wasted. Some of the stuff on this record were tucked away while Unique was still with IV of Spades. Now he’s truly free, what can he still do? [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.