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Advents: sounds of UK indie, done pretty well

I have a massive soft spot for the sounds of British indie/rock: fuzzed-out, chorusy guitars; relaxed vocals, weaving guitar lines and motifs. So do many contemporary Malaysian bands, apparently (we really can’t shake off our colonial roots, can we?), and we’ve learned to do these sounds pretty well. 

Bands like Masdo naturally come instantly to mind, with their love affair with Rickenbacker guitars, Abbey Road, and sounds of the 60s. There’s Ramayan and their trippier affinity for 80s sounds (their latest album “Di Persiaran Cakrawala” is a great example of that). On the much more modern end, there’s Midnight Fusic and their brand of indie that smacked incredibly of The 1975 when they first exploded in 2018, but toned down and matured with their more recent releases, which we’ll probably get into another time. Honorary mentions include Alien Lipstick Fire and FUGŌ, the latter of which I’m also a fan of.

What’s caught my attention lately, though, is “Obelisk”, the latest single from KL-based four-man band Advents, which as with my recent reviews sent me on a listening spree of all their material.

Frankly, I’m really impressed by these guys. There’s four of them – vocalist/guitarist Eimann Arif, guitarist Shawin Albert, bassist Nadree Omar, and drummer Izaaq Izham – and they look super young. That’s less and less of a surprise these days, and also makes me sound like an old fuck…but it’s still impressive, considering how mature they sound. Mind you, they’re not doing anything revolutionary with the genre, sounding within range of the last few years, but for such a young band, it’s pretty damn good.

That said, I have to say: compared with their older material and after a few repeated listens, “Obelisk” falls a little short for me, despite its pristine-sounding production. The track kicks off with a catchy, fuzzy guitar hook, overlaid with a phone call-style monologue (a very…bedroom technique that I have to say is beginning to wear a little thin on me), leading into an otherwise alright-sounding song. 

For lack of a better word, the song sounds monotone, both vocally and dynamically. It only really picks up steam by the time the bridge hits at about the 2:30 mark. The track could likely benefit from some spicing up and minor rearrangement, perhaps after the first chorus onwards, because the otherwise strong guitar hook starts to wear a little by then.

Personally, I’m more a fan of “Swing State”, a bouncy, energetic track that reminds me strongly of UK band The Night Café (which I really am a huge sucker for) in terms of arrangement and sound. For one, it feels like a better representation of what they would probably sound like live. It’s also much more dynamically interesting, with bigger peaks and valleys, and great guitar riffage especially during its choruses and bridge.

There’s also the lyricism, which despite getting a little overwrought at times, is generally good stuff. It’s nice to get English lyrics like this from a Malaysian band; the words and delivery are strong and confident, and have a somewhat poetic, almost literary quality.

They’ve done alright for themselves so far since their first EP “Clueless & Immature” last year, having released three singles this year (“Obelisk”, “Swing State” and the wordy “Turn On The Lights (Or You’ll Hurt Your Eyes)”). The EP compiles their first three singles – the weirdly pro-USSR first single “Television Dream”, “Bad Sense Of Time” and “Slowdance” – and adds three others, including “Kiara”, an interesting ode to the dim lights of Mont Kiara that…also manages to romanticise Sainsbury’s? Bit of a bougie turn here, but still a good listen nonetheless.

Verdict: good, well-formed material (with a few hiccups here and there), and I’m looking forward to what these guys make next.

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