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Album Review: Duality – The First Born

What the Chennai acoustic band are missing in vocals, they make up on guitar

Anurag Tagat Jun 17, 2013
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Duality: (L-R) Mihir Ranganathan and Manoj Sreekumar. Photo: Srinath R.S

Duality: (L-R) Mihir Ranganathan and Manoj Sreekumar. Photo: Srinath R.S

[easyreview cat1title = “The First Born” cat1rating = 3]

Duality CDart

Duality – The First Born

It’s entirely possible that Chennai acoustic rock duo Duality are the indie music equivalent of engineers and MBA graduates who decide to try their hand at fiction. They are probably the guys who picked up English music and found a guitar lying around in their hostel and decided to kick out the jams.

But enough of the presumptions; here’s the real deal ”“ Duality comprises guitarist-vocalists Manoj Sreekumar and Mihir Ranganathan, who founded the band in 2011 to play a mix of every major kind of rock, except on an acoustic guitar. Their first full-length album, The First Born, offers 10 tracks that keep it simple and stripped down to guitars and vocals, with both Sreekumar and Ranganathan exchanging vocal duties on the songs. The first notes on their self-titled track “Duality” is a winner until the vocals kick in. While Ranganathan has trained in Hindustani vocals, most of the singing by him and Sreekumar could do with more rehearsals perhaps. The duo’s guitar work, on the other hand, steadily improves, from the blues-tinged fable of a murderous wife on “Stranger” to “Girl,” which is about a “psycho out to prey.” The rusty blues-style of guitars works throughout the album, but the lyrics and the vocals find themselves in the clichés bin, with lines like “Mankind is mad, this world is sad” on the metal-inspired “Rust.”

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The only point at which the lyrics acquire the much-needed layer of depth is on “Affirmation,” a slow ballad which takes on longing and existential questions. The overall simplicity of it all ”“ in terms of sound, songwriting and lyrics ”“ is both good and bad. “Crusader” hooks you in quickly, but also make you wonder why “Rust” is five minutes full of instrumental parts, which don’t have a single shining moment. Perhaps the band need a few backing instruments to liven up a few songs and to avoid coming across as high-quality bedroom jams that don’t quite hit the spot. Still, nothing wrong with bedroom jams, and “Let It Rain” comes across as a perfect melancholy tune that sounds so only because it’s acoustic.

Barring the two fillers [“An Army Of Flowers” and “Joy”] on this 10-track album, the duo’s debut release would have been much stronger even if it had just half the songs. With 10 tracks, the sound is as diverse as it gets, but not always interesting.

Key tracks: “Duality,” “Let It Rain,” “Affirmation.”

Buy Duality’s The First Born here.

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