BY IAN URRUTIA
Of all the promising debuts that came in 2015, Oh, Flamingo! seems to have the restless mind of an adventurist. The band managed to stay relevant for years, challenging listeners with left-field music ideas while fostering a pop-informed sound that radio wouldn’t mind playing.
Five years down the lane, all the success feels well deserved. From injecting afro-pop sensibilities on “June” to redefining the musical form with a balance of noise and accessibility on “Reflections,” Oh, Flamingo! didn’t hesitate to introduce an indie-rock sound that is inherently familiar, but erased of specific pandering. There exists a sonic collage distinctly theirs by language and style, a quality that has always made them a standout among their peers.
After their landmark self-titled EP, the band managed to score a few live favorites and crossover hits: the subdued but intricately conceived “Bottom of This” and the heartfelt anthem “Four Corners.” Both songs evoke the genuinely daring work of their massive EP, taking unexpected left turns while also giving us some of the loveliest and most engaging melodies this side of alt rock. But despite the instant pleasure that they deliver, none of the newer songs capture the level of excitement that listeners found in “June,” “Two Feet,” and “Reflections.” Maybe because expectations are set way too high for an acclaimed band that seems to never run out of innovative tricks, or they’ve been capable in the past of blurring sonic boundaries and coming up with something that takes ambition to hardly defined places.
Oh, Flamingo! ushers in the new year by bringing back more possibilities than anyone could have expected with their brand new single. Written by bassist Billie Dela Paz, “Naubos Na” steps out of the accustomed: a material that doesn’t strive for perfection, but lyrically and melodically establishes a newfound maturity that runs a spectrum of emotions. Here, Billie and company embrace the sheer messiness of adulthood and expectations, not afraid to air out our collective frustration about life and politics in general, and how we seem to strive for acceptance in a world that doesn’t even care about our well-being. The production settles with restraint that captures the mood of Billie’s songwriting, and it works because it doesn’t sound like anything that Oh, Flamingo! has churned out in recent years. Above anything else, it feels like a paean to simplicity and emotional heft, but it’s also a great pop number that defines this generation’s anxiety toward the state of the nation, and our need to feel secured in a time of discord.
“Hanggang kailan ipipilit?
hanggang saan bago tumanggi?
hanggang kailan magsisisi?
These words don’t require literal interpretation; they provoke. They want us to think and take action. Trading sonic ambition for something that channels the everyday life, “Naubos Na” is easily the best in Oh, Flamingo!’s string of indie staples. It demonstrates their ability to grow as thinking artists who are capable of defying expectations.
Stream Naubos Na