Of catchy melodies, commercial pop and a natural comeback

It’s never easy to make a comeback in music, especially after a big break. It’s a perplexing time, when new artists and new albums often replace a veteran name. But Faakhir has indeed made his presence felt with the release of his new album, Jee Chaahay. His last album, Mantra, which was a colossal hit, released in 2005. Since then, Faakhir has released music videos, done some shows but it’s now, after a gap of nearly six years, when he has returned with a full-fledged new album.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that the album has come at a time when music album releases are too few. While 2011 has seen some pretty good songs release as singles; the only other major album release of 2011 has been Ali Zafar’s Jhoom. All this means only one thing: expectations from Faakhir are sky-high and comparison to the other album of the year, Jhoom, will be inevitable. And Ali Zafar’s Jhoom is a monumental album, not just for Ali Zafar, but for his fans as well. The record not only showed off the mature side of Ali Zafar but also proved that he is one artist who is here to stay because he showed true artistic growth on Jhoom. And that’s what we’ll be looking for in Faakhir’s Jee Chaahay.

The hits and the misses

The comeback song, ‘Allah Karay’ is nothing to write home about. It’s definitely gotten attention, not just because it marks Faakhir’s comeback into the spotlight after a certain gap, but also because the video stars Mahnoor Baloch and Mikaal Zulfiqar. Neither their presence within the video nor the actual song showcase Faakhir at his best. The video seems clumsy and amateurish while the song has no musical appeal. It’s got a beat, crunchy guitars but it remains an average tune at best.

But Faakhir manages to redeem himself very quickly with some of the other tunes on this album.

‘Baylia’ opens with a fancy guitar riff and soon enough, percussions and acoustic guitars come in without any awkwardness. Faakhir sings in his signature, emotive style as he croons, “Tujhe Ko Mein Kaisay Dhoondo?Peena Main Chahoon Daroon/Teray Ishq Da” and it works. This is a happy song, one without any fuss or too much chaos. It works because it’s got a catchy melody and Faakhir knows exactly what to do with those.

On a similar happy wavelength is ‘Kho Jaaoon’, with clean, crisp guitars from Imran Akhund and perhaps even keyboards (?). On ‘Kho Jaaoon’, Faakhir sings about a special someone, “Kho Jaaon/Teri Bahon Mein/Saagar Hee Saagar Hai Teri Ankhon Mein/Nasha Hai Teri Baaton Mein/Apni Taou Manzil Hai Teri Rahon Mein”. It’s a mushy love song, for a lack of a better term, and those are always a safe bet on a pop album, especially if the artist is Faakhir. He excels in the department of writing and creating lovelorn pop songs.

Anyway coming back to the album, Faakhir changes gear and the mood with ‘O Sheeday’ – a song that seems to be about a corrupt politician as Faakhir sings, “O Sheeday Barbad Huway/Teri Soch Pe Thu Thu Thu” and again “Dil He Dil Mein Tu Ye Kahay/Sanu Kii”. This is a strange song. Lyrically, it’s one of the few tunes on the album that’s exciting. And that’s primarily because this one isn’t a love song. But musically, it doesn’t have the same catchy hook as the other songs. Having said that, it must also be said that this one might be a hit anyway, thanks to the tongue-in-cheek lyrical wordplay. And Faakhir sings it well, with a sincere conviction and a slight disdain, which makes for a unique musical balance.

Another experiment after ‘O Sheeday’ is ‘Atom Bomb’ which opens with the line: “Atom Bomb is the most destructive enemy of the mankind” and then begins the electronica-inspired tune that is ‘Atom Bomb’. It isn’t the same thing as ‘Bum Phatta’ by Ali Azmat. In fact, the only common thread between the two songs is that both refer to ‘bum/bomb’ and it ends there. While Ali Azmat may have been singing about social issues, Faakhir, it seems to me, is singing about certain someone. He croons, “Tu Nasha Da Atom Bomb/Karey Tu Bura Haal” which is fine but then a rapper – who, according to the album inlay is a certain “Capo Status” – creeps in and raps away, which makes this song even more fussy. It’s like this song is part Bollywood, part electronic and part R’n’B/rap. There’s just no direction and no real funky hook.

‘Parwa’, on the other hand, just commands attention instantly. It opens with such a simple, catchy beat and again, clear, clean guitars that you want to listen, just to hear what happens next. And the mood gets slightly somber hear. The celebratory air that came with ‘Baliya’ and ‘Kho Jaaoon’ disappears here. Instead, Faakhir sings in a tone that’s almost resigned as he croons, “Tum Ko Meri Koi Parwah Nahin/Tum Naa Jaisay Mujhe Chahaa Hee Nahin/Lakta Hai Yeh Mujhe/Mujhse Jaisa Koi Nata Hee Nahin”. It’s a heartbreak number but it’s still got a beat and this one works very well on this album. It fits right in.

Speaking of heartbreaking tunes, there is one other song that fits the bill, namely ‘Shikwa’. Faakhir and his producers, Kami and Shani, strip all the hope and musical pace off this number. It’s perhaps the slowest, moodiest songs and surely, one of the better tracks on the album. Faakhir can sing happy, mushy, sad love songs like a pro and he does it here with a natural ease.

On a slightly introspective note, one finds the title track, ‘Jee Chaahay’ while ‘Mitti Paao’ has concert hit written all over with its constant drum/dhol beat and a cheeky chorus.

Verdict

If there is one thing Faakhir is really good at, its commercial pop music. He doesn’t claim to be anything else either (unlike some pop musicians who consider their brand of music as ‘rock’ and call themselves rock stars).

On Jee Chaahay, Faakhir has experimented slightly, which is always nice to see. Lyrically, the album’s on the weaker side simple because it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. After all, this is Faakhir’s fourth album. However, Faakhir knows melodies and most, if not all songs on Jee Chaahay, have a fairly catchy melody, one that stays in the head. His songs do have a memorable quality. From the days of Aatish to Sub Tou Sohniye and Mantra, Faakhir’s music has been decent. With Jee Chaahay, he has definitely tried to up his game. In some places, the album sounds slightly Bollywood-inspired but that doesn’t work against it unlike Amanat Ali’s Kohraam. A slight tinge of Bollywood has always been a staple of Faakhir’s music and that factor hasn’t changed here.

In a nutshell, Jee Chaahay is a good, coherent record, despite being patchy in some places. It’s got some tunes that will thrill fans of Faakhir while few will serve as disappointments. It isn’t groundbreaking music, but that’s okay too. This is commercial pop music and Faakhir hasn’t shied away from this simple, fact. Ultimately, it works for him.

 

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