UDOU PH had the honor of joining Red Ninja Productions and Lions & Acrobats for the exclusive listening party of “Mundane,” the band’s sophomore album to be released later this October. Vocalist Icoy Rapadas, guitarists Jim Lopez, Carlo Lava, and Andrew Son, drummer Pedro Tumibay, and bassist Oteph Tumambing sat across us like a police lineup. Members of the press alongside the band’s close friends gathered in the bright space of FRANK & DEAN as the Wednesday sun began to descend.
Moving away from the heavy sound of “Points & Perspectives,” their latest album includes songs that are more well-thought-out. Tracks are more concise and there is a noticeable difference in their cleaner arrangements—a task done in order to shift the listener’s focus to the message they’re trying to convey. To Icoy, there is still a strong sense of importance and validity in the everyday fluctuation of a person’s feelings; they’re nowhere near mundane.
The perfect opening track, its instrumental alone could sit perfectly well in a movie soundtrack—specifically in Comet when all the flashbacks hit the screen. Jim got the riff idea from his personal story of having feelings for someone. Unable to use words, Icoy met him in the middle to create the narrative of a character distracted with fantasies that will only remain fantasies. This constant daydreaming leads to unneeded sacrifices in the character’s life and ends with a repetitive wakeup call: “I need to wake up.”
“Whiskey” plays on the band’s mundane angle. In most long distance relationships, it’s difficult for partners to see the little changes that affect their significant other’s life in bigger ways, like craving a new taste for whiskey (did he read my personal writing?!) or redecorating a room. The track’s build up will bring out the heavy emotions resting on your chest but ends on more a cheerful note, clarifying that once the distance is closed, it’s all good.
Existential dread hits us the strongest in the morning and the track’s instrumental chorus perfectly captures that. “Bed” might simply sound like not wanting to get out of bed but sometimes, the struggle runs deeper than a case of laziness. The song’s general take on the struggle makes it relatable to everyone who suffers from the same dilemma.
The anthem of nearly every millennial in the corporate world, “Car” talks about dropping the city for a weekend and going on that soul-cleansing province trip with your closest friends, “Kahit Tagaytay lang.” the band jokes. It starts off with a funky bass riff followed by an overflow of guitars and holds a rhythmic resemblance to Two Door Cinema Club. We should start chanting “I’m taking my time this time around” as our out-of-town mantra. Better yet, add it to your road trip playlist.
Their most experimental track so far, the band backed “Cash” with a bass instead of an acoustic guitar. “Fate, why have you been so hard on me?” is a question many everyday Filipino commuters ask themselves. With the monotonous cycle of traffic, work in the morning, then traffic again, it compels you to realize how much time you really lose in a day. Jim’s floaty sax completes the song’s aura of anxiety, melancholy, and fatigue.
Once again, Jim and Icoy met in the middle during the songwriting process for this track. When Icoy mentions the song’s meaning, learning to love and support an insecure person, “Kite” becomes the ideal soundtrack in a scene where two people are sitting in a bathtub crying to each other. It also features vocals from Run Dorothy’s Dee Cruz, adding a vulnerable ambience to the track.
If you haven’t noticed, all the band’s promotional posters for the album incorporate a dish. Icoy explains that once he found himself suddenly unemployed in 2014, he spent more time at home with his family. When his mum served him pizza pandesal for merienda, it hit him: he hadn’t tasted this dish in so long because he was barely home. This inspired the idea to add dishes on their promotional materials, signifying a specialty in each other of the member’s households.
Icoy’s honesty reaches a new level with “Photograph.” It talks of his own ex-girlfriend wanting to give him Instax photos of them together. “Why give me them?” he asks, not wanting to see them in the first place. The unnamed significant other still harbors the same feelings even after their breakup, stirring what seems like a bit of his survivor’s guilt. We trace the track’s heavy ending back to their roots—a complicated decision they had to make that turned out well for the band in the end.
“Trip niya yung song. Yung song lang ha, di ako.” Icoy cracks after reminiscing on the situation that inspired the track. After picking up the wrong (or possibly non-existent) signals from a female friend, their friendship crumbled. He ends the song with the plead, “Can we save what’s left of us?” like an apology, not from a scorned lover but from a legitimate friend.
The band pass each other shots from one end to the other, explaining that this is their ritual whenever they have special occasions during their sets. A cheers and a couple sour faces later, they make the official announcement: Pedro is leaving the band. The surprised room of people fall quiet for a quick second before murmuring their disapproval of the decision. Pedro explains that he’s had a change in priorities, but will always be there to support his brothers no matter what. “Drum” is straightforward with the sadness the band feels, creating a certain innocence to the rather mournful tune. Underneath the inspiration, Icoy sings about the actuality of growing up and the destruction of childhood’s carefree purity. If the closing line “It’s been a pleasure, best of luck, make us proud.” doesn’t make you cry, you’re heartless.
Rounding up the album is a harsh reality checked packed into a song. “Your sweat don’t reflect much on your paycheck” is a slap across the face, but the track is nowhere near a downer. If anything, “Cheque” reminds us that we pave the path in our lives. Being jaded while doing a job you don’t enjoy is natural but hey, there’s literally no one else in this world that can change that but you.
“Points & Perspectives” didn’t have much space for Icoy; he was more of added guitars. However, the lessons they learnt from making the first album made the biggest difference to their upcoming one. With new inspirations and more experience under belts, “Mundane” is proof of the band’s musical maturity. They continue to juggle their day jobs and music careers without sacrificing quality—the mark of passion.
Lions & Acrobats turn a decade old in three years. Where do they see themselves? Definitely not in the “Live large, big house, 5 cars lifestyle!” they originally joked about; as long as they’re not compromising and they’re happy with the music they’re making, they’ll consider themselves successful. And who knows, maybe a third and fourth album in the works!
Special thanks to Red Ninja Productions for inviting us to the listening party! Drop by the Social House in Makati on October 21, 9:00 PM for the “Mundane” album launch. Runway Crimes and Run Dorothy will be joining to play you a couple tunes as well. This is one record you shouldn’t sleep on.