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Vintage Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. So no surprises, but a really good album.
The trio is back again after Rock On, which was one of the best 2008 had to offer. Melodious and lyrically philosophical (just the basic paths, choices, dreams, etc.) is how I would sum the album. But when your album is called Luck By Chance, you will get some of that thrown around. Apart from that, you can relate most of the songs to some previous track of SEL.
The albums starts with Yeh Zindagi Bhi, a really melodious track. This is sung beautifully by Shekhar Ravjiani (who is a trained classical vocalist and a former Sa Re Ga Ma contestant) of the Vishal-Shekhar duo. The duo have been frequently singing for SEL in the recent past and I am glad they are. This track has a Rockford feel to it, but it really kicks off when the chorus begins. The chorus completely elevates the song to another level. Loy is also credited as a singer, but I am not sure where he was in the track.
The second track is the fast paced Rajasthani folk song Baawre. It starts off with free vocals in true folk style before the folk rhythm sets in. It has a nice melody and fast feel to it and then proceeds to electronic beats with accompanying strings. They have mastered such tracks previously in Kajra Re and we have heard similar arrangements from SEL before but this track might be a winner just because of Hrithik Roshan performing in the foreground. Shankar Mahadevan sings this fine, the Rajasthani Ensemble is actually quite good and I still cannot figure out where Loy was in this track.
Next up is Pyaar Ki Dastaan. I don’t really need to tell that it is a romantic number. Indian Idol 3 contestant Amit Paul is behind the mike for this one with another SEL regular Mahalakshmi Iyer. You can tell the singer is new just from the detailing, effort and singing within limits. But Amit Paul surprisingly has a voice tailor made for such tracks and his voice is smoother. The melody has that hint of retro feel to it, just like Chup Chup Ke from Bunty Aur Babli. Overall decent track.
Sunidhi Chauhan sings Yeh Aaj Kya Ho Gaya. It is easy to tell this song is going to feel great in the movie with the guitar strumming in the background. Again decent track, but falls short of being a masterpiece like a couple of previous tracks.
The next one makes up for all that. Sapno Se Bhare Naina is easily the best track of the album followed by O Raahi Re. I am not sure of the raaga it is set in, but classical vocals accompanied by the bass guitar and electronic beats in most cases makes for a great listen. So does this. But the singing here is truly great.
A word about the lyrics here. Javed Akhtar is a veteran no doubt but after a point when the words are predictable, I personally cannot appreciate the lyrics as much. This album has classic Bollywood lyrics, not many words or phrases out of syllabus. Rock On was a different effort from Javed Akhtar, and was apt in songs like Pichle Saat Dinon Mein but was disappointing in the title track of Rock On.
The last original track is O Raahi Re, a philosophical call to the protagonist. It is quite melodious and easy on the ears with its pace and arrangement. Sung aptly by Shankar M. And I really liked the lyrics from Javed Akhtar here for a change. Sample this snippet of the stanzas :
Aasaaniya Mil Sakti Hai
Tujhko Zamaane Se
Par Zara Yeh Bataa
Jeena Hai Kya Yunh Tujhe
The last is a remix of the only remixable track, Baawre. It is well, a remix. So you know what to expect.
Overall this is a nice soundtrack from SEL, surely not as brilliant as Rock On, but they are themselves to blame for setting the bar so high. But they keep up their track record of consistently giving good uninspired (to be read as music that is not inspired by other sources) music, which in itself is an achievement. I seriously cannot think of a single bad soundtrack from the trio.
But all those times they fall short of outright brilliance.
After seeing people’s status messages change faster than Ajit Singh’s loyalties in the trust vote, I knew I had to have a suno at this album. In one word, this album is all about .. rock (it would be just lame if it were something else). For the clueless people, rock also happened to be a genre of music before it got busy replacing every verb, adjective and adverb in English vocabulary.
Handling the music are the composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, back after Taare Zameen Par. For a rock album, I cannot think of anyone better in Bollywood (unless of course you don’t mind listening to the songs so long before liking them that you realise you have grown too old for this genre). But to top it all, we do not have Shaan and KK in the credits, and Shankar Mahadevan keeps his singing to himself for this album ! Wise.
This album gets straight to the point and sets the tone from the very first strum of the guitar in Socha Hai. The best song is Sindbad Sailor hands down : good lyrics, melody and singing ! Socha Hai is probably the next best. The biggest surprise in this album was the Zehreelay sung by Suraj Jaggan, who after singing brilliantly must have needed truck loads of Strepsils. This song goes further away from the metalloids in the periodic table, but is a must listen probably for the singing. Rock On and Pichle Saat Dinon mein manage to hold the album tighter, while Tum To Ho and Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein bring in the softer side of rock. Phir Dekhiye loses its way to the Yashraj Camp.
This album is textbook rock, simple riffs, even simpler chord progressions, but the undercurrents of melody is where it wins.
The losses. The lyrics (Javed Akhtar) :
Aasma Hai Neela Kyun, Paani Geela Geela Kyun Gol Kyun Hai Zameen
doesn’t really speak rebellion. Even Koi Kahe from DCH was better. And of course, no self-respecting rocker would croon
Phir Main Aise Josheelay Geet Sunaoon
Mere Geeton Ko Sunke Sab Ye Bolen
And for those of you who didn’t know. This album was recorded in 5 days flat ! Unfortunately, that shows.
Lastly, a few words about the man handling the mike for 6 songs out of 9 in this album. Farhan Akhtar, the person who gave us the great Dil Chahta Hai and the even better Lakshya. Lets just say, this guy knows what he is doing, which in itself is a rare occurence in Bollywood.
This album has Ehsaan written all over it, but Shankar and Loy help translate that to a good album. They continue proving themselves but are still looking for that one masterpiece.
This album surely joins the list of albums coming out of Bollywood recently that I have liked. The other I would recommend are :
Aamir (you have to listen to it to know why it is here).
Khuda Ke Liye (same as above)
A couple of songs from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.
Saawariya (I just discovered this album a few days ago. Incidentally, I also liked the movie. Yes, I have an appointment with a shrink next week.)