Monday, April 06, 2009
THE ORDINARY PEOPLE- It's A Weird Existence CD(Tim Records/Odyssey Music Pte Ltd 1993)
--sojourner at 5:03 AM
There is a fine line between The Ordinary People and The Oddfellows. One is ordinary, the other is odd, but they are both such nerdy, earthly, humble and pot-bellied bands who can carry a tune. They may not be the most impressive looking people (indeed they are much less than impressive if you see their photos in the liner notes!) but they can seriously rock like no tomorrow. There is no pretension or posing of artistry from this band, you know, that typical levitation into the strata of high mindedness or the construction of meaningless abstract pseudo-intellectual proses typical of many Singapore bands... This band simply rock out their numbers straight in your face with their bouncy teenage naivete and the simplicity of their expression, which at times seems like the second coming of “Teenage Head”. The Ordinary People, led by the multi-talented Chang Kang had already garnered a good reputation amongst the local indie observers with his early heartfelt demo recordings of just simple acoustic numbers with a heart, even before the release of this debut album.
Their debut CD album titled “It's a Weird Existence” is one of the landmark local release that defined the “Singapore Sound”, which is in a way both good and bad. The Ordinary People may be an alternative band, but therein their rockings contain a laidback, heartlander soul that could be found on few bands like The Oddfellows, The Amateurs (a very impressive much forgotten demo-level band) which eventually trace back to the source: in Xinyao (local Mandarin folk pop)! I hope the band will take this as a flatter. The bad thing about this album (and along with many Singapore albums), like how many of the critics and detractors of local music like to put it, lies in the vocals, which may seem unrefined, offkey or having that funny Singlish accent to them. I personally actually find this rather endearing, for this is the earthly charm of our indie music with our unique creole exemplified. The guitars are loosely tuned and loosely strummed, and the band probably don't give a hoot to tabulations and musical notes, which really adds to the allure of this band.
Musically, The Ordinary People rocks the alternative faculty, with substantial modern power pop influence in the veins of Teenage Fanclub and The Posies, add a dash of folk and roots sounds. The album is full of memorable numbers that has this youthful exuberance coursing through its veins. Like the opener “Ready To Be Confused”, there is a ball of rolling enthusiasm and urge after quiet guitar ringings and the blithesome harmonica turns this into a twirling nerdy angst-ridden lament. “No Regrets” is a melodic number waxing lyrical about nostalgia, the good times, old friendships and such, which brings a feel good feeling in the heart, with a catchy chorus that makes a great sing-along. “Older Now” is one of the two acoustic guitar numbers on this album, reminescent of Chang Kang's early works, and it is soulful, tuneful and backed by a female vocals courtesy of Charlene Pang. “Slip Away” is the other one, and this song is a slightly plaintive but still hopeful meditative passage performed with acoustic guitar and harmonica. One of the dearest aspect I observe about this band is how they always maintain that big positive vibe throughout the whole album, which speaks volume about their personality. And in such sad times (economic recession, impending danger of great depression and war), this is one thing that makes The Ordinary People shines like the cheery sun, from the rest of the negative doom-mongers singing about how sad they would hope to be.