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20221006_205448

Review

Pina Colada Blues’ ‘For Medusa’ traverses through love’s labyrinth using a cocktail of genres

An indie artist from Kochi, Kerala, Kevin Shaji aka Pina Colada Blues, like his artist name is known for his ‘cocktail’ of genres which includes indie, lofi, trap, dream pop, and alternative along with some South Indian elements. Inspired by a magical “filmy” time in his life filled with feelings, emotions, and trust that was built but eventually broken, he recently released ‘For Medusa,’ a beautifully crafted album that takes the listener through the different stages of a relationship that’s not meant to be.

“The thing about a love story is that it eventually ends” seems to be the main theme of the album while deftly capturing the usual trajectory of a relationship through the unique blend of dreamy/indie pop electronic arrangements. The multilingual album has a total of 8 songs running for about 24 minutes.

‘For Medusa’ proves to be a personal album that reflects the stages of a relationship, as aforementioned. It starts with painting the picture of meeting that special someone for the first time and all the feelings that come through the first song of the album ‘Arikil.’ Translating to ‘beside’ or ‘near,’ the song has lyrics in Malayalam and features Aromal Chekavar’s beautiful vocals while talking about the narrator figuring out how to open up to the person. With a gentle guitar intro followed by some synth and beats, the song mirrors the act of falling in love with the person. It serves as a perfect start to the album through its soft and dreamy mood, especially through the fluttery beats that mimic the flutter of your heartbeat. The blues–rock track also has a slight Malayali touch to it through the ‘chenda’ beats.

Meeting someone who gives you a flush of emotions also comes with the butterflies. Once you make your move and begin the relationship, the honeymoon stage of the relationship also begins. This is showcased in the second song ‘Butterflies.’ A track with reggae-style pop production with saxophone and trumpets in the drops, the album now shifts to a lighter, more uplifting mood with a very fun intro. With the vocals slightly more sensual than ‘Arikil,’ the song features ambient sounds of rain to bring on the vibes and also has an arrangement that feels like the tease of the back and forth in a young relationship. The music video for the song shows a man looking down at the girl from his balcony and has visuals of butterflies flying around flowers and shots of the girl and the boy in different places to probably show how they’re exploring this relationship together. With the outro featuring a romantic guitar melody by Baiduriya.

‘Raabta’ and ‘Marzi,’ the next two songs in ‘For Medusa’ explores the relationship further. While ‘Raabta’ speaks of the warmth and familiarity in the relationship, ‘Marzi’ focuses on the heavy emotion of love. The first song begins with a gentle hum by Dirghangi and a soothing guitar melody with birds chirping in the background and the mood is carried throughout the song. The lyrics talk about desire and complexities of love with some flute and saxophone melodies and have some Carnatic influences in the percussion. ‘Marzi,’ on the other hand leans more into pop and features vocals by Prateeksha Srivastava and Keshav Tyohar. The duet feels like a back-and-forth dialogue between the boy and the girl and features more of an urgent and driving rhythm compared to ‘Raabta.’

The album now starts getting a darker tinge as Pina Colada Blues talks about the difficulties that begin in the relationship. ‘Uljhan’ talks about the mixed emotions and moments where you find it hard to be vulnerable with vocals by Mitika Kanwar. A track that can probably be called a ‘desi garage pop’ song gives a new perspective to the artist’s sound and has more Hindustani elements. The next track ‘Medusa’ talks about the relationship which now becomes very toxic, and the narrator feels like it is rooted in fatal beauty, just like the Greek mythological character. With the vocals by Joel James giving the flavor of deception, the track also features Kerala–based rapper Anohnymouss’ enigmatic rap.

The penultimate track of the album, ‘Aazhake’ explores the perception of the relationship from both the guy and the girl. While the male part (sung by Shyam Sasikumar) talks about the bittersweet feeling he does not express with anyone, the female part, sung by Damini Bhatla becomes the voice of reason where she tries to resolve all conflict and asks the guy to open up. With lush harmonies and expressive vocals, the song captures the feelings that come with a dying relationship.

‘Ooh Girl,’ perhaps one of the best songs in the album, talks about moving on and how hard it is while also reminding us about the relationship. Inspired by 5 SOS and One Direction the song is set in the teen pop/Brit pop genre with vocals by Yash Narvekar.

‘For Medusa’ showcases Pina Colada Blues’ versatility as an artist and his ability to blend genres. However, one may argue that conceptually, the theme of the album is nothing novel or unknown to the Indian audience, which might bring up the question of how original the concept is thematically. However, with catchy hooks and driving rhythms and the masterful blend of indie, lofi, blues, and electronic pop, the artist has surely transcended sounds and language boundaries.

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