Resigned collection, ambient clippings

Artist: MenwhopauseAlbum: Neon Delhi

Published - February 28, 2017 05:20 pm IST

What is it about our country’s capital that evokes a sense of dark despair? A resigned collection of songs and ambient clippings tied together with a lot of hazy effects, New Delhi’s seasoned rock band Menwhopause narrate a story like no other on their long-awaited third album Neon Delhi .

They’ve been around for more than 15 years, and Neon Delhi comes about six years after their psychedelic signature of moroseness that was Easy . With a tumbling, mumbling ingress on ‘Unsure’, the band introduces the genius of Grant Richards on piano, picking up the delicateness of their sound. That groovy acoustic guitar-led rock is still something that only Menwhopause have aced in India – thanks to the combination of guitarists IP Singh and Anup Kutty – and that is seen best on the sardonic ‘Ship of Fools’, complete with khamancha and dholak by Rajasthani folk trio GFD.

And then, a complete turn of the spotlight on their evolution – with the gritty ‘Maybe Who Knows’, a lo-fi electro-infused trip that even features samples of speeches by statesmen such as Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi. And then, after another obscuring interlude, back to alt rock roots on ‘Pawn’, but then it spirals into first, a happy kid-led chorus (‘Recess’) and then, a gloomy comedown with the trio of ‘Dusk’, ‘Let’s Sing a Song’ and the charged-up ‘Back Home’. There are about five tracks that are probably meant to be heard as just one, but Menwhopause break it down for ease of understanding.

The band springs on us poet-guitarist Jeet Thayil in what is a transporting noisy spoken word piece called ‘Still Dirty Streets’.

It sounds like this is when the sadness takes its place at the back of their minds and it’s time to party down. The dance-y, rhyme-fuelled ‘On a Boat’ is one of their best that way, shattered rockstar dreams and mindless debauchery sounding almost anthemic.

They close on simple terms with the threadbare ‘If Only’, followed by a witty shayari delivered by their writer friend Palash Krishna Mehrotra over the sound of barking dogs. It’s a reassuring sign that Menwhopause can wander into an experimental art rock space and not make it one bit pretentious.

Neon Delhi is available on . The band performs at The Humming Tree, Indiranagar on March 3. Tickets: Rs 500, full cover.

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