Yuna: Decorate (Laguna)

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The problem with those acoustic-totting singer-songwriters is that they all sound alike after a while. Intimacy soon turns into clingy-ness when your main topics are yearning (and mourning) and then yearning some more for love. Ugh! Lucky for us, celebrated songstress and indie “It” girl, Yuna not only has a golden voice but also the kindness to put some thought into her album so that the songs don’t sound the same.

There are 9 tracks (plus one bonus) which wave on the side of lite-funk and rock. Opener ‘Gadis Semasa’ displays Yuna’s vocal range and has a hooky chorus. It could very well be a lost track from one of today’s indie darlings like Florence and The Machine (only sung in Malay). ‘These Streets’ follows up with a downtempo electronic piano intro before the whole band comes in, bringing some dark overtones via cellos and reverbed guitars. ‘Penakut’ is probably the most fragile song on the album. Here’s where all the emotional sentiment comes out, if you were looking for it. A song about life being unfair for the shy, it really casts a human feel on the album and over Yuna’s headscarf-donning image (which seems to be the unnecessary focus for many). The song ends on a euphoric, rock guitars high and will definitely keep lonely, shy people company for years to come.

Old(er) hit ‘Rocket’ is another standout moment on the album. It’s also the only song where you might mistake her for Zee Avi. Jazzy, breezy, Jack Johnson-ish, ‘Rocket’ could well be soundtrack for a TVC of some new hipster I-phone. Excellent chorus!

The only miss on the album is probably ‘Random Awesome’. It’s just a bit too 500 Days of Summer for us. Going pop is good but it can also be as dull as revisiting Jewel’s early albums. ‘Cinta Sempurna’ kind of dwells on this as well with it’s typical balada Melayu melody and accompanying piano.

Decorate ends on a high note though. Both the title track and bonus track (‘Super Something’) are unique. ‘Decorate’ has an acapella-driven intro which hinges of Bjork slightly while ‘Super Something’ kicks the door shut with grrl power pop.

All in, the album sounds more like a collaborative band effort than a self-indulgent solo artist. We can only applaud her effort for prettying up such an intimate piece of work.

Listen to: ‘Rocket’

If you like this, you’ll dig: Mary Lou Lord, Liz Phair, Zee Avi.

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