MUSIC : Butterfingers - Kembali With A Vengeance

This entry was featured in Butterfingers official blog. Thanks Emmett, Loque, Kadak & Loco.

If somebody told me 12 years ago, that Butterfingers will be rocking keroncong, joget or syair, sing entirely in Malay and write lyrics such as Satu, dua, tiga, empat / Siapa cepat dia dapat, I would definitely tell that person to go fark himself.

Come to think of it, The Beatles fan in the 60's would probably say the same things if they were told that Paul, John, Ringo and George would study transcendental meditation, play sitar and wrote lyrics such as Jai guru deva om.

I am not trying to compare Butterfingers with The Beatles; although they very much qualify to be our very own Beatles in terms of their musical evolution, experimentation and revolution. My point is this : I really can't think of any other local band that has grew so much musically and spiritually in a short period of time other than Butterfingers.

Every album since the raw-sounding 1.2 Miligrams up until now, Butterfingers is constantly changing, surprising us with their trademark Butter Sound, trying to improve their musical talent as well as to broaden their fans listening skills. They could have just stick to playing their hard-rocking grunge rock music that they mastered a long time ago and leave it at that, and everyone will be happy. But Butterfingers is not your average rock band. They definitely have something up their sleeves. And judging by their new 6th studio album Kembali, they are moving into the right direction.

Kembali is Butterfingers 2nd Malay language album after the very dark Selamat Tinggal Dunia and compared to that album, Kembali is the exact opposite. Filled with radio-friendly, catchy up-tempo songs with simple but meaningful lyrics, Kembali is like a Malay folk album with guitar effects. Malay peribahasa, syair and pantun are gracefully laced with a much simpler guitar works and sing-along tunes. It almost sounded like they travel back to Malaya in the 1950's, learn how to sing and play music, came back with spirits intact and put their own twist to the sound of those eras.

The songs are sung in the style of the 50's a-la R. Azmi, like they were telling us a story, or injecting some positive moral thinking into our soul. The music is definitely local, with Malaysian's traditional vibe in every song, but blended to sound global and universal. This is the new Butter-sound and Kembali is the new and improved Butterfingers. What's important is that, they sounded new, fresh and different. At the end of the day, something different is just what we need.

Track by track review :
  • Joget Global - Perfect intro to the album, with Emmett reciting syair and the band singing in a capella. Emmett and Loque sings ubah,ubah,ubah! / Kera di hutan disusukan, anak di rumah mati kelaparan, an obvious ditty to the current state of Malaysia vs Indo music fiasco. I'm not really sure about the 5 minutes guitar effects and distortion sound towards the end of the song though.

  • Bebas - My fave track on the album (so far). Starting from the first line of lyrics, Enjit-enjit semut / siapa sakit naik atas, the song grabs your attention with beautiful melodies, laid-back singing and sing-along lyrics. Love the guitar fills in this song. Simple but effective.

  • Maharani - I guarantee, that violin notes will be stuck in your head for a few days. Emmett's show off his violin skills, perfectly blend with the sound of Loque guitar's. There's an impromptu, acoustic version of this song available on Butterfinger's YouTube channel here that sounded just as great with the 'oooh, ooohs..' and hand-claps replacing the violin and drum works. Very Weezer-ish!

  • Terus Terang - Wang ringgit boleh dicari / Tapi mana nak sama dengan kau seorang / Yang suka berterus-terang sings Emmett in this very simple but catchy song. The lyrics are probably about the fans and their loyalty to the band. The guitar solo in the middle reminded me of their Butter Worth Pushful days.

  • Air Liur di Kuala Lumpur - And ode to the capital city, with right on your nose lyrics such as Kuala Lumpur / Belajar beratur / Janganlah menggelupur. Listen carefully and you could hear Vio-Pipe, their famous instrumental song in the middle of this song, maybe sarcastically played by Loque.

  • Lengkap Semula - Obviously someone is in love. With lyrics such as Akan ku bina sebuah jambatan emas / Demi menghubungkan aku dengannya, the song started off slow, almost classical, and build up tempo in the second verse, before going into this big orchestra like chorus. The chorus melody was probably inspired by P. Ramlee's Anakku Sazali. A grand universal love song, Butter style.

  • Merdeka - Not 100% keroncong (came off sounded a little bit ska), but hats off to Loque for attempting to write a fresh new keroncong song. With a little help from music legend Pak Kassim Masdor on the grand piano, they managed to capture the feel of keroncong with lyrics about freedom. How cool it is for the band to jam with the legendary Kassim Masdor, who used to jam with the great P. Ramlee back in his days.

  • 1000 Tahun (Mahu Hidup) - The first single, started off really subtle with Loque creating guitar sounds that sounded like a sape (Sarawak's ethnic musical instrument), before gradually transforming into a hard-hitting rock song. Loco's drumming was energetic, and it's probably the only song on the album that you can headbang to. Emmett sings Harap maafkan / Di atas segala kesulitan / Perselisihan yang di hadapi / Amat Dikesali / Takkan berulang lagi... maybe it's about their love-hate relationship with the local Malay press? Whatever it is, this is a song about re-inventing, proclaiming that they are back, better than before.

  • Gelombang Cinta - While listening to this song, I kept thinking, if the lyrics were in English, it will definitely be Radiohead, during The Bends. I really like the sound of Kadak's bass on this one.

  • Mendaki Menara Condong - A little bit of Sebadoh and maybe Bloc Party on this track. Loco and Kadak carried this one with amazing drum and bass work. It's an uplifting song with lyrics such as Peristiwa berlaku dengan sebab / Terus mara ke depan / Jangan putus asa / Jangan menyerah kalah that will definitely lift your spirits in whatever it is that you're doing.

  • Mati Hidup Kembali - If The Beatles (again) have Let It Be, Butterfingers have this song. Loque beautifully crafted a masterpiece, going solo on the piano pouring his heart out to this song. The chorus sounded a little bit traditional with lyrics such as Malam semalam gundah gulana / Hari ini hari mulia / Tak pernah aku rasa begini / Seperti mati hidup kembali. This song simply sums up what the album is all about. After saying goodbye in Selamat Tinggal Dunia, now they are back in Kembali, reborn and reinvented.

I read an interview somewhere, that Butterfingers are saying that they were glad that nowadays, less people are labeling them, 'Malaysia's Best Band' like before, thus creating less pressure and anticipation into the creation of this album. Well, whether they like it or not, I like to call them, 'Malaysia's Most Creative Band'.

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  1. pjoe said...

    loque sudah bereksperimentasi dengan fender telecaster

    me like it!

  2. zan said...

    Dahsyat review ko Edd..Aku ingat nak buat gak tapi menyedari aku takde bakat untuk mereviu (tak dengar semua album Butter sebenarnya) so aku pun malas nak buat..hehe

    Kesimpulannya, untuk semua track, superb. Dorang berjaya memecahkan satu lagi lapisan siling untuk ke satu aras lain dalam muzik dorang. Cuma yang aku memang tak berkenan pasal bunyi-bunyian tambahan pada lagu 1 & 11. Mungkin Butter boleh pikirkan untuk buat "hidden tracks" instead of bunyi humming guitar tu..

  3. Anonymous said...

    cover simple sgt r..sblm ni sume cover dorg sempoi je..

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