It took a pandemic for indie-rock trio Paper Satellites to finally put their musical vision out into the world. Spanning years of writing, Manila Meltdown depicts the maturation process of a band figuring out their sound and rolling with it.
Evident in the album is their penchant for making memorable riffs and melodies while also experimenting with their sound. Their Oh, Flamingo!-like instrumentation is top-notch and while the Alex Turner-esque vocals were taken straight from the mid-2000’s indie scene, they sound more refreshing for today’s listening.
The album takes the listener on a musical journey of growth with improvements heard from the remastered tracks to the newly made ones. The older songs show earnestness in their boundless energy often falling short on the delivery during the chorus but show bursts of creativity in the melodies and lyrical punch in the verses.
In the newer, non-remastered, songs, the boys further refine their technique most notably with how the chorus is handled – a weakness in the older songs. The band makes use of a complicated-verse-simple-chorus to show contrast that have led to weak remastered songs but has been refined in their newer tracks.
Though singer-guitarist Jyle Macalintal shows a set vocal range, his strength in lyricism is harnessed to great effect in the album’s best song: “Spinning”. He flips his conventional writing style found on other songs around and makes a compelling and engaging song by making a frantic chorus that matches the riffs and the song title.
The simple-chorus form of writing is exemplified, though, in the second best song of the album: “Scene”. The difference in lyrical complexity adds contrast between the songs’ parts but the simplicity in the chorus was enhanced by taming the instruments – further elevating the lines.
I wish they went further with the experimentation, though. Ness Urian – of The Gentle Isolation – had a short feature that felt lost as she only delivered a few lines at the end of YGSFM. More inclusion of her sweet voice into the song would have made for a more contrast-y and interesting listen.
All in all, Manila Meltdown is an excellent indie-rock trip full of great melodies and sing-along songs that show what the band is capable of.
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