Four is a Magic Number: Kjwan IV Volume 1 Album Review

At least three good songs – that used to be my condition before I would buy an album especially the foreign ones. P450 many years ago was too expensive to afford for a student with a small allowance such as I was, and so shelling out such an amount for a CD was not very practical. This is why before I would purchase a CD, I would wait for the artist to release no less than three good songs; so if the rest of the album sucked, at least I would have three good reasons to justify the money I spent on that damn record.

Now down to IV: (l-r) kelley mangahas, boogie romero, marc abaya, inky de dios

Last March 31, one of OPM’s biggest names in rock, Kjwan, launched their fourth studio effort titled, “Kjwan IV Vol. 1.”  If Kjwan had released this album back when I still abided by my 3-song rule, I would probably make an exception. Even if they released only one good song from it, I would still purchase it, for the reason that it only contains four songs anyway.

As the album title suggests, it would be released in volumes – two more, to be specific – but the dates are still unannounced. It is the band’s follow up to 13 Seconds to Love, which was made available in 2009.

Many changes have happened since then, which primarily concerned their line-up. Drummer Jhoon Balbuena and guitarist Jorel Corpus have left, which paved the way to embrace a new member in the person of keyboardist and percussionist, Enrique De Dios, whose musicality has clearly added a new dimension to Kjwan’s dynamic sound.

This quasi EP opens up with its carrier single,Walang Kaso”.   It introduces the audience to the song with subtle drumming and keys, followed immediately by what seems to be a conversation between two sensual guitars.  The guitars are remarkable – as stated earlier, in the intro – and as they inch towards the outro at 2:15. The track has a nice build up.  It oozes with confidence, and for a lack of a better word, coolness. It is the perfect opener – energetic and catchy.

the cover reminds me of another opm album…

“Walang Kaso”  fluidly transitions to the next track, “Strong for Us,” whose beat (except in the chorus) has similarities with Up Dharma Down’s “Every First Second” but just a tad slower.  The feel of Marc Abaya’s voice, on the other hand, is slightly reminiscent of Sandwich’s “Love Is.”  The track is solid, yet delicate and graceful at the same time; all the elements are interlaced wonderfully.

A song with a splash of swagger – that’s Play for the People. It seamlessly mixes rock, a dash of soul, and hints of old school RnB. As the title states, this song essentially describes the band’s desire to play music and to share their world with anyone who is willing to listen. Like “Walang Kaso”, it exudes boldness, and is very inviting. The bass and keys give this track a special kick.

They decide to end the album with a dramatic touch. Babalik Kaya? starts out with an acoustic guitar and deeply heartfelt vocals. Different instrumentation follows as it crawls towards the half time mark and builds a stronger sound. Musically, it is good; but the same could not be said about the lyrics. They are clichéd and nauseatingly sentimental.

…this

Overall, IV is worth buying despite having only four tracks. It is inexpensive – only P199. However, if you’re going to do the math, it would actually be more expensive than most OPM albums that are usually sold for P290 – P350, but contain around 10 – 12 tracks. If you would have to buy all three volumes (and I’m assuming that all of them would have the same price tag), it would total to almost P600 – more pricey than the foreign ones.

This type of release is ideal to people who prefer to buy only the tracks that they like; they would not have to buy all three albums. However, knowing Kjwan’s quality music, it would be highly unlikely to do so.

* * * Kjwan IV Vol. 1 is available at all Astroplus/Astrovision outlets.

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