I find the idea of two bands joining forces and releasing a split album strange, particularly in this day and age where tracks are sold individually online. But that doesn’t seem to stop The Dying Sirens and Pop Up from releasing a split album aptly but not so creatively titled “The Split Album” on 12.12.2012.
The two bands had just one thing in common, having Pugar “Uga” Restu Julian as a member, but that’s where the similarity ends. The Dying Sirens and Pop Up have two very different approaches to music and coming from two different genres, the first indie while the other is a slightly more creative side of pop.
On the production side, The Dying Sirens seems to be better produced with clever and exciting arrangement. The band’s first track “Our Times Our Feeling” is a feel good song filled with cheerful arrangement and simple lyrics.
It’s a catchy tune is fitting as a radio single but I’m slightly more drawn to “The Fall of the Idiot” which begins with an ascending and descending series of chromatic notes, reminiscent of Blur before breaking into a more melodic and uplifting progression.
Uga’s voice feels raw and gives the album a sense of simplicity as it sits on top of complex and cleverly arranged layers of guitars and keys. Occasionally, Uga’s singing is slightly off key, as if to show the world that no auto tune was used in the making of the album and they’re proud.
The same cannot be said about Pop Up’s female vocalist Ita (Uga plays drums at Pop Up). The vocal seems too perfect and over-rehearsed with little hint of rawness and spontaneity.
Pop Up’s best bet “Taman” is a flawed attempt to combine jazzy keys and up tempo beats. The chorus feels hollow and uninspiring. The vocal is dry and sometimes feel washed and distant. The odd chord progression was more curious than inspirational.
But there are a few gems in Pop Up’s album. I smiled and laughed throughout the song “Dissenting Opinion” which is about the things the band love and loathe about John Lennon. The track is playful, the tune’s exciting and the vibrancy brilliantly captured. I just wished it weren’t so repetitive.
Then there’s the track “Malam” co-written by the band’s poet friend Waraney. I love the solemnity, the somberness and the feeling of solitude. But the keys are too dominant, too in your face while Ita’s vocal is powerful but still not quite capture the song’s melancholic tone.
The Dying Sirens is also not without its flaws. I personally struggle to listen through all six songs offered. The other four feel like fillers, with the exception of Bye Bye Bye which is a recycled hit from earlier release.
The final verdict is the 12 track album seems unfinished, which is annoying for me because there are some exciting tracks in there. It’s like going to an art gallery where there’s construction going on.
You can buy the album at http://popsirensrecords.multiply.com