This review is written after hearing the Kaala Jukebox that starts oddly with a Std Electricals ad.
Having broken the stereotypes of a typical Rajini album in his previous outing, SaNa (Santhosh Narayanan) gave us a musically pleasing Kabali. Will Kaala have ground breaking themes or genre defining tracks or a simple acoustic ballad? The answer is here. The album consists of SaNa’s typical singers, rappers and lyricists, and a new band (dopeadelicz) to create the local sound of Dharavi.
The first take away from the album is that this is possibly the least acoustic SaNa album. If you are a person to whom melody appeals the most, you have less than 4 songs in an album of 9 songs to enjoy. As the lyrics in most of the songs bear strong social messages, he has adopted to less of melody and excessive use of rap with catchy and quirky short choruses.
Let’s take a quick look at the songs now. The first song and probably the opening song in the film is “ Semma Weightu Namma Kaala Settu” and it has a “Veera Thurandhara” and a “ Enga ooru madras” hangover. The short melodic portion sung by SaNa and Hariharasudhan is catchy and there is a mix of several genres in a single song. We have guitar riffs backing the song, solo beat boxing in the end, and the strong brass backing reminds us more of an 80’s raja-esque era. It worked overall for me.
To know that Shankar Mahadevan has sung a peppy love song for Rajini with a simple acoustic percussion & harmonium backing is exciting in itself and I am talking about the next track, “Thanga Sela”. SaNa’s signature running bass and the vocal character of Shankar are speaking for themselves in this enjoyable track with a very simple melody.
“Katravai Patravai” is the track used to back the teaser of the film and it. It has all the characteristics of Neruppu da with a heavy beat and heavy metal riff throughout the song. This is typically a song to instigate the fire to make your voices heard and fight. The words portray Rajini as a brave lion roaring to fight against evil. The Yogi B portions stand out in the song whereas the English rap did not fit in quite well. It still works as a total package.
If you were mesmerized by Vaanam Parthen in Kabali, SaNa gives you it’s genuine upgrade that is, “Kannamma”. The song has a strong piano essence to it with a soulful rendition from Pradeep and Dhee in this duet. The melody is highly unpredictable and the overall experience is delightful. The first interlude with the flute (by Vishnu Vijay) creates the mood and the depth for the following verse. It is not common to find the chorus and the verse to be composed in minors that are not off the same scale. The acapella version of the song performed by Ananthu with his rounded legato tone, is equally exciting and one reaches to a stalemate in picking the better version of the two.
Theruvilakku, Urimayai and Poraaduvom are all driven by the strong message in the lines and the improvisations and the composition were probably done as they were writing the song. Personally, The words of Urimayai meetpom did not fit the genre of the music handled, and hence it did not work for me. Poraaduvom has an interesting brass backing, a catchy chorus, and a strong beat which is enjoyable. Sadly the diction and melody factor of the solo singer was a let-down in certain places. Theruvilakku is probably under the lyrical theme of Vetrikodikattu, where it somehow reminded me of Yogi B’s Indian girls in parts and it sounded mediocre. The last track in the album is Nikkal Nikkal and it fits into a template “Kuthu” song and it works quite well.
Final Verdict: Santhosh Narayanan has tried to make the songs sound interesting despite the strong preachy words but sadly some of them did not work in this loud album. The Recall factor in the non-melodic songs is quite low but the songs with a melody core will find your playlist sooner or later.