Nowadays, with tons of mediocre and so-so artists coming out of the woodwork, it’s hard to discover new talent that really deserves the attention of many. True, there are tons of newbies who sound promising on paper (and may even release a couple of hits or so), but most of them fail to deliver when it comes to follow through.
This is definitely not the case with Never The Strangers. Composed of Ace Libre on vocals and keyboards, Francis Victa on bass, PJ La Viña on drums and JP del Mundo on guitars, this young band from Ateneo De Manila University has already proven that they can churn out hits with their first single “Alive,” which has already charted in many radio stations and local music channel MYX, and the band is close to duplicating that with their second single “Moving Closer.”
For those not fortunate enough to have heard of their songs, Never The Strangers’ music can be described as alternative rock, with a lot of synth and keyboard elements thrown into the mix. The band’s self-titled debut CD (with 11 songs plus a bonus track) is a great showcase of the band’s talent, both technically and creatively. Add the fact that they’re so young and raw in their early 20s and it’s easy to believe that we can expect more great things from Never The Strangers.
If you liked the band’s first two singles, you’re in luck, as there are more musical gems to find here apart from “Alive” and “Moving Closer.” There’s “Bago Mahuli Ang Lahat” (my personal favorite) a track telling the listener to chase after his or her love and express all the things unsaid before all is lost, set in an arrangement haunting enough to give you goosebumps. Another Filipino song is “Makakarating,” a fun, upbeat piece that could serve as an anthem for those stuck in an “It’s complicated” status, as Ace sings, “Kung bitiwan mo ang takot sa loob ng puso mo… makakarating tayo.” There’s also “Second Midnight,” where the foursome ups the ante by enlisting the violin playing skills of Silent Sanctuary’s Chino David.
The thing with Never The Strangers is one of their greatest reeling in powers lies in their songwriting and Ace’s enchanting voice. This is especially evident in “Everything,” a stripped down track where Ace only sings with an acoustic guitar (and he’s even backed by his own voice!). Listen as it builds up to three minutes and 22 seconds into the song, and at that precise moment, I guarantee you, your mind will be blown (just be sure to listen with good headphones on!). But that’s not to take away from all the other members of the band and the other elements of Never The Strangers’ music. In fact, the instrumental track “A Thousand-Year Promise” is a great showcase of those. The drums, bass, keyboards and guitars all mesh well to create a track that will hook you, all in less than three minutes.
But perhaps the best track to listen to if you want the whole Never The Strangers experience all wrapped up in one song is “Davenport.” The song packs a punch music- and lyrics-wise, that just one listen will no doubt have you LSS-infected and singing, “Can you feel the rush, rush? Can you feel the rush, rush, baby?”
Well after listening to this album, I definitely can.
Text by Klara Iskra Añonuevo
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