The stripped down musings of Ronit Sarkar, who uses the stage name Awkward Bong possibly for self-explanatory reasons, are fundamentally hard to dislike (unless the music somehow betrays the charlatan nature of the musician’s intentions – an argument which, in this case, doesn’t seem to hold any weight; basically, as long as it’s honest and not stolen or too derivative, it should work, but I digress). It’s that evergreen style of blending shimmering chords on an acoustic guitar and a searching voice that you can’t really go wrong with – innovation isn’t a priority; nuance, finesse, timbre and range of voice, use of odd chords, lyrical quality are the variables that define the style. Keeping it simple, and short too, with only four songs on the EP, works in Awkward Bong’s favour. The brooding atmosphere that the hollow spaces inside songs create, in between sporadic and minimalist drums, can potentially get grating, but with the limited number of songs here, that possibility doesn’t arise.
The tracks head in fairly expected territories, with the occasional distorted crescendo, as on opener and album highlight ‘Slept Through’, or a hint of a string arrangement (‘Not Today’) adding some versatility and expanding the scope of Sarkar’s singer-songwriter vision just a tad. Things do get a little too fruity at times – elements of simple pop music from the ’90s creep in from time to time, none more so than on the ‘ooh-ah’ sections on a couple of songs and clappy percussions, while the alt-rock leanings are also evident in the arrangements and the flow of the choruses.
Where Awkward Bong, through its short duration, succeeds is an understated ability to step beyond self-imposed genre limitations with vocal flourishes or instrumental displays and steady, if restrained, build-ups that give the songs an underlying sense of purpose. And while the music does get a little predictable at times, a little derivative, with cheesy elements sneaking in from time to time, the husky voice, controlled with a fair degree of assurance and tact, makes this EP a pleasant listen for fans of the sound.
Stream Awkward Bong's self-titled EP below:
A review of Delhi's funk/prog/hard-rock band Five8's new full length release, Our Imaginarium.
A review of Delhi's lo-fi, indie, post-punk duo Smooth, Relax's self-titled debut album.
A review of Growing Suspicions, the debut release by Ahmedabad's As We Keep Searching.
A review of A For by electro-acoustic duo Gumbal.
A review of Firdous by Coshish.
A review of Bombay Sounds, a Mumbai Boss compilation.
A review of Eyes Everywhere by A Mutual Question.
AKHIL SOOD A cheesy, nasal introduction to album opener 'Lens Life' suddenly metamorphoses into a spectacularly