Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The end of a chapter
Atomic Bomb (1997)
I meant to write this review way back in September but just kind of dropped the bomb...err, ball on completing it. Atomic Bomb is one of those successful albums you're excited to listen to in order to see what the big fuss was all about only to be slightly disappointed when you do finally get the chance to hear it in its entirety. Actually, Atomic Bomb could easily be renamed Trip: Part II except Rivermaya by then were completely swimming in Brit pop-rock waters whereas previously, they were just carefully treading in it.
If this record had done away with overdone, forgettable pop-rock tracks like "Elesi", "If", "Luha" (Tears) or "Fever", perhaps I might have enjoyed it more. It's unfortunate because this was probably Rivermaya's most coherent work to date. The band extended what they did on Trip with "Nerd Kills Goliath" by adding three instrumental tracks to help with song transitions. Songs like "Hangman (I Shot the Walrus)" showcased new approaches to writing. This song seems to be divided into three parts where the beginning sounds like post-grunge/90s alt rock, the middle is a clear ode to The Beatles, and the ending goes back to 90s alt rock with Rivermaya sounding a lot like Canada's own Moist and it worked. "Sunny Days" is another Beatle-esque song except the circus sonic instrumentals remind me of a Canadian indie band that I got to see live this past summer called The Hylozoists.
Rivermaya, however, didn't completely go British. "Mabuhay" (Live)and "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" (Always Looking for You) are classic Filipino pop - while somewhat catchy, they're not the kind of songs I desire to listen to over and over again.
I'm guessing the band played around with adding various sound effects to tracks in the studio but whatever that screeching playing near the end of "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" was just made my eardrums want to cry. Speaking of things tears-related, the violin part of "Luha" is rather wonderful despite what I said about this song earlier. "Tea for Two" is like Atomic Bomb's version of "Lost". Like the latter, there's "ooo"s here as well but instead of Bamboo's vocals rising an octave higher, they slip down an octave lower (the only contemporary vocalist I can think of who Bamboo sounds like is The Killer's Brandon Flowers but even that's not an accurate enough comparison).
Blanco provides catchy hooks galore but it's the most evident in the sensual "Ballroom Dancing" which also happens to contain some of my favourite lyrics in Atomic Bomb: "Don't tell me I'm crazy/I dreamt the sun was radiating blue/But doctors have cleared me/It's just a case of too much missing you". Yes, cheesy but strangely intelligent with the play on words.
Atomic Bomb was both a blessing and a curse. It gave the band a chance to play in the U.S. in 1998 but it was the last one with Bamboo Mañalac. During the U.S. tour, Bamboo remained in L.A. where he stayed for five years before returning to The Philippines to form his own band (named after himself). Even with only three Rivermaya albums in his repertoire, Bamboo had quickly gained recognition for his ability to mould his voice to sing songs of any genre effortlessly. Obviously, Rivermaya survived and remained just as successful without him for years to come but I can only imagine the heart-sinking feeling that the average Rivermaya fan who associated the band with Bamboo's voice felt at the time.
"Sunny Days" - Rivermaya
"Hangman (I Shot the Walrus)" - Rivermaya
"Inst.2: The Chase" - Rivermaya
"Ballroom Dancing" - Rivermaya
Posted by Kristina at 11:26 p.m.