The long-awaited studio debut from one of the country’s singular bands is finally here. And it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, for those familiar with the band’s repertoire, Easy holds out plenty of surprises. For those coming to Menwhopause for the first time, well, you couldn’t have asked for a better entry point than this fourteen-track concept album.
I’ve seen the band play live several times. At their gigs, I’ve always felt drawn to the same songs: ”˜Time’ (with which this album opens), the up-tempo ”˜Keep’, and, of course, their classic crowd-pleaser ”˜Father Monologue’ with vocalist Sarabjit Chadha pretending to be a controlling father admonishing the wayward son, spitting out the line, “Waa haa have I been wasting time?” with such conviction, it made my hair stand on end each time. The big revelations on Easy are the other songs ”“ ”˜Sky is Falling Down,’”˜Downtown’ and ”˜Circles’”“ quiet gems that seemed to get lost live, but which come into their own on the CD.
Sarabjit Chadha’s furry voice is at its evocative best, at times forceful (”˜Keep’), at times vulnerable (”˜Sweet Despair’), always seductive and persistent. It’s the kind of voice that draws you in, holds you close. In the lyrics there is despair and melancholy; Chadha
can be wistful but he can also be wry: “I’m bowing,Â kneeling, crouching/ With my crack open wide/ Know I can’t disguise/ How I take it easy.” Add to this delicate fretwork, pounding drums and a nagging yet unobtrusive bass line, and you have the Menwhopause sound: quiet, cacophonous, welcoming ”“ like walking into a heated room in winter.
The production quality on this album is excellent, and so is the artwork, even though at times it gets a tad too literal. My only quibble was with ”˜Floating’, one of the more powerful tracks on the album (“You’re looking at the dried stains/ Of spunk on your wall”). The vocals have been deliberately warped giving Chadha’s voice a
corrugated, curdled effect. This didn’t work for me at all, and sounded more like a gimmick, a joke gone wrong.
In an ideal world, ”˜Brimful’ would have been the first single off the album ”“ it’s got hit single written all over it ”“ and gone straight into the charts at No.1, forcing ”˜Sheela ki Jawani’ into premature old age. It might still happen, but only if you go out and buy the CD.
Key Tracks: ”˜Brimful,’ ”˜Time’