Music reviews: Brisom, TJ Monterde, Tegan and Sara, Birdy


Posted at Jun 06 2016 07:32 AM | Updated as of Jun 06 2016 05:45 PM


The Oxford dictionary defines limerence as “the state of being infatuated with another person characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily a sexual relationship.” It’s also the title of indie-pop OPM fivesome Brisom’s new record which is essentially a compilation of the best of their debut “Perspectives” and new materials.


The first three tracks parade influences from the exultant synth-pop of OMD and Depeche Mode. In opener “Unplanned,” vocalist Brian Sombero sings of stopping for a while and starting all over again. “Pilot” finds him “tongue-tied he can barely talk,” numbed probably by indifference.

“Alice,” on the other hand, dips into more euphoric zones. Brian talks about taking a lover’s body and giving in to the ecstasy. It’s a slow moving ballad with Brian applying a thin falsetto near the end to signify release from earlier tension.

The next half of the album includes “Will I” and “Waking Lives” featuring the soaring guitar tones favored by U2 and on to Coldplay. A new version of “Bigkas” is a piano-based ballad that’s angry, hopeful and dead serious in parts -- it’s almost emo in lyrics and execution.

Filled with optimism and dread, “Limerence” sounds like a quick intro to the shape-shifting sound of Brisom.


TJ Monterde
"TJ Monterde"

The self-titled sophomore release of TJ Monterde fully lives up to his billing as an acoustic balladeer. It’s an all-original and all-Filipino album that marries his trademark sensitive songwriting with a smooth pop sensibility.


Nowhere is this more pronounced than on his new single, “Imahinasyon” in which finger-snapping rhythms drive the engaging melody. He says it’s a song for all "torpes," especially those “na sobrang magmahal pero pag andiyan na di ka makagalaw.”

He goes for soulful strokes in the mellow ballad “Dating Tayo” then performs a sweet strum-along duet with real girlfriend KZ Tandingan in “Ikaw At Ako Pa Rin.” The latter is a call-and-response number in which TJ and KZ exchange love notes in breathy heartwarming vocals.

TJ Monterde burst into the OPM scene in 2011 through his viral YouTube videos. With his new album, he has found his niche as well as talented associates who continue to bring out the best in him.


"Beautiful Lies"

In a pop world filled with airbrushed, pitch-corrected females, Jasmine van der Bogaerde aka Birdy comes across as a flesh-and-blood human. Discovered when she was a mere 14-year old covers singer, Birdy, now 19, sings of love lost, found and lost again as if she lived through it.

There are no breezy numbers on her sophomore album. Instead, she shuttles between femme fatale and heartbroken soul in a voice that in places brings to mind Adele, Lana Del Rey and Lorde. She scales some minor heights in “Take My Heart” and “Hear You Calling” but it’s the slow ballads like “Deep End” And “Silhouette” that will take your breath away.

Birdy stumbles a bit in the pedestrian “Save Yourself,” where she wraps her best Lana impersonation around a song on personal empowerment, but she somehow rescues it from the doldrums with one of the sweetest croons about parting ways.

Skillful if occasionally rickety, “Beautiful Lies” showcases a confident, evolving voice.


Tegan and Sara
"Love You To Death"

Twin sisters Tegan and Sara make music that’s closer to ‘80s pop hit-makers Roxette than any of the neo-pop bands of the moment. Tegan Quin’s voice is even a deadringer for Roxette’s Marie Frederiksson.

Having said that, Tegan and Sara’s new album is as seductive as synth-pop gets today. Each track worms its way to your pleasure center with its bright melodies and addictive hooks.

There’s a penchant for indie pop crossover by way of ‘80s new wave and lyrics about love, boyfriends and desire that have been the duo’s stock-in-trade over the past decade. Happily, the narratives fly by like afterthoughts and it’s the music that sticks around for a longer time.

The finest moments come in “Boyfriend” and “Stop Desire.” Both draw as much musically from Duran Duran as from Roxette. “100x” is a slow-motion, piano-splashed lament that serves as a breather from the mad rush of sugary pop.

“Love You To Death” is more substantive than previous recordings and thanks to the superb musicianship, it’s kinda perfect soundtrack for Saturday night or Sunday morning.