Azmyl Yunor & the Sigarettes: Wilayah

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While Azmyl Yunor is the only singer songwriter with a penis that JUICE cares about, let us begin with a preamble saying that Wilayah can be a bit of a disappointment. Azmyl’s decision to go with a full band this time ‘round is understandable in a climate of limped male singer songwriters dominating the scene, yet this come with a price.

A good number of the tracks on the record are already familiar to fans of the folk rocker as a live act, which is exactly the issue with having a full band conflate his intimate live numbers to sing along anthems like he were a Malay Bruce Springsteen circa Born in the U.S.A.

‘Anak Dara’, sombre in its pathos as an acoustic song, loses some of its thematic big city emotions when it gets too epic with the saxophone solo coda. Meanwhile ‘Harmonica’ is absolutely glorious as anthemic folk rock, something we could imagine singing along to at Stadium Merdeka (lagu rakyat, beb), opposite of the former.

Then there’s ‘Ballad of Mat Som’, which benefited a lot in its current incarnation – even Liyana Fizi’s non-intrusive backup vocals added to the track’s troubadour nature. Speaking of which, Azmyl is still a master of offering listeners with nuggets of life in the city with believable intonation and lyrics, even when they’re as inconsequential as the way he drawls “sweet as…”

The way each track segues to another with short recording bits of city life added to the storytelling. Wilayah succeeds most when it’s not busy with being too rock-ish, as is on ‘Freo’, and not so successful when it’s channelling early ‘90s rock. Still, Azmyl’s concern for issues beyond ‘Kasih’ and ‘Cinta’ makes him a tenfold better listen than the sensitive John Mayer types you get around this part of the world. 

LISTEN TO: ‘Ballad of Mat Som’ ‘Harmonica’ ‘Makan Gaji’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Iwan Fals, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash

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