ALBUM REVIEW: STOPGAP – TOTEMS

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by Lenne Chai

As popular as modern indie pop-rock was in the early noughties (I am tired of the ‘post-rock revival’ moniker), it does not seem to have caught on in a big way amongst Singapore indie rock bands. What I am referring to, are the bands that have been influenced by The Strokes, Vampire Weekend & Arctic Monkeys, and in that respect, apart from Cashew Chemists, the only local indie band that has successfully taken a crack at this style is Stopgap.

This is self-evident from listening to highly anticipated debut album Totems – chock full of the idiosyncratic rhythms and lightly overdriven guitar patterns that one might associated with the aforementioned bands.

However, the power  of Totems is in the infectiousness of the melodies and the energetic performances of songs like “Bender”, “Kryptonian Machine”, “Crossing Swords” and “Mind Made Up”.

More than that, the band is able to slow the pace somewhat to deliver a reflective piece (that is NOT strictly a ballad) like “The Life” — a number that succeeds despite deviating from Stopgap’s ‘formula’.

Kudos must go to the twin, interlocking guitars of Calvin Phua and Lee Yewjin who do a bang-up job in providing the ‘orchestration’ in Stopgap’s simple yet considered approach to indie pop-rock. Not to mention, the firm foundation that the rhythm section of Grayson Seah and Eldad Leong that allows the guitarists to take those flights of fancy every now and then.

Credit also singer Adin Kindermann, who certainly has one of the more distinctive voices in the local music scene – delivering those heartfelt albeit sometimes snarky words with a familiarity that is warm and comfortable throughout.

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay Totems is that it accurately represents the collective spirit of its makers – open, welcoming and always game for a good time!

Stopgap launches its debut album Totems, at *SCAPE The Ground Theatre on Friday, 4th December. More info

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