It’s been a while since I’ve touched this blog. Oh well. Urbandub’s fourth album has been anticipated for a while, especially after their single First of Summer got them massive popularity nationwide. Before then, the band was arguably just a very big indie band (is that an oxymoron?), with their first two albums, Birth and Influence, nabbing critical acclaim but not mainstream appeal. Soul Searching nabbed Song of the Year at the NU Rock Awards a while back, but even then the band didn’t really make many waves with the masses. First of Summer changed all of that. Suddenly it was their song playing on the radio (pardon the pun). One must remember that Alert the Armory, the first single off Embrace, got some airplay, but it was much more comparable to what the band received in their first releases. The massive appeal that First of Summer brought carried over to their next singles as well, and Urbandub was newly minted as a big-timer in OPM music. Of course, expectations are high for Under Southern Lights.
Listening to the album, you can really see how far the band has come since their initial release. Their sound has evolved throughout their time as a band, and you can definitely hear traces of each of their previous 3 albums in this one. From Birth‘s raw, grungy sound, to Influence‘s more polished fare, up to Embrace‘s more experimental ditties, Under Southern Lights will really make longtime Urbandub fans reminisce. For this album, the band’s sound hasn’t changed as drastically as it has in previous releases, as the band has retained the sound that made them one of the Philippine’s biggest bands. The album is unmistakably Urbandub, as can be seen in the songwriting and the instruments. One thing that can be noticed however is the lighter fare in the middle part of the album, as they are some of the least loud tracks the band has produced.
All of the tracks in the album are quite passable, but some songs do deserve some mention. Evidence will remind old-school Urbandub fans of Two Things, from Birth, with its soft (relatively) sound and heartfelt lyrics. Life is Easy, meanwhile, makes me think of Kjwan‘s One Look. Both songs are stark departures from the bands’ signature sound, and Life is Easy has a bit of funk infused in it, just like Kjwan‘s single. Both of these songs make up an interesting middle section of the album, with the band departing from their signature sound. The rest of the album is full of fast-paced instrumental rock, the standard Urbandub fare.
Overall, the album is quite solid, just like one would expect from a veteran act like Urbandub. The album is cohesive and none of the tracks are really awful or whatnot. It doesn’t top Influence, and none of the songs here will likely match the insane heights of popularity that First of Summer got. Nevertheless, it is still a good album, and one that will probably deserve more than a few listens.
Rating: **** (out of 5)