Naharpur Prints is the debut album of Delhi-based bedroom producer, Natiq and fourth album of the underground pop sensation, Udbhav; his first under the moniker of Nanku. Although this is their first full length project together, they’ve already established themselves as a triumphant duo with singles like Aajkal, Tum Pagal Ho Aur Mai Bhi, Sochna, Samay, setting up high expectations from the album.
A skit begins the album where Nanku, Karun and Natiq are heard driving around their Naharpur flat, the place where Teesri Duniya members first met. This gives some context for the name of the album and builds up to the first track ‘Soja’, which sees Nanku narrating his modern day romantic encounter full of lust. A solid DIY instrumental with unconventional drums and kicks perk up a predacious yet catchy hook. The verses are dusted with sexual innuendos to add that oomph factor in the track, a pattern which is observed throughout the album.
With ‘Bahaaney’, Nanku spices up his trademark melodic style with a comedic rap section on an experimental folk pop/hip-hop beat by Natiq. There’s a playfulness amongst the instrumental and singing, one reciprocating to the other quite effortlessly.
Next track, ‘Dhishkyaun!’ fully realises the idea that was touched upon in Soja, despite the song having one of the best hook of the album, the cringe-worthy, double meaning lyrics leave a bad taste in your mouth. Additional production and guitars by Toorjo provide that much needed funk to the song.
Corroborating to what Natiq felt about the beat of this track, it’s fair to say that this is indeed the weakest beat of the whole album. Nanku’s composition and charm is the saving grace for the track.
“I didn’t like BOP’s beat at all and thought of changing it but surprisingly that became one of the most loved songs on the album” – Natiq
The best part about a collaboration like this one where both the artists are masters of their craft is that when one of them fails to deliver, the other one is there to lift the song up. Similar thing happens with ‘Trippy’ where Nanku gives a lukewarm performance but Natiq’s woodwind instrument based beat keeps the track interesting.
‘Zubaida’, arguably the best and the most popular song of the album boasts of some amazing arrangement and composition by both the collaborators. The song also brings some clarity to the loose storyline of the album where the protagonist gets the taste of his own medicine when he gets cheated on by his lover.
‘Bless’ comes next, a half decent track which doesn’t have a lot going on apart from the pretty production. The song moves onto an awkwardly placed skit ‘Hoga’ where Natiq is heard expressing his angst of being a musician and that too, a producer in India. ‘Mor’ tops of this sonically rich album perfectly, courteousy of a beautiful singing performance by Shaastriji.
Never has an album put me in such a conundrum where I’m not able to figure out if I should love the piece for the magical compositions, production and singing or detest it for the eccentric lyricism. This trope of using provocative lyrics to keep the audience on their feet is an old trick which may be a hit or a miss. In which category Naharpur Prints falls, I’ll leave that for the readers to decide.