Topiwalleh is a jar of mixed pickle, where the primary ingredients are good vocals, tight composition, and taste; add to that the throbbing sound of myriad instruments – the kanjeera and violin to mention a few – and we have for ourselves one of the potentially popular but substantially average albums this year will probably see. With their title track ‘Topiwalleh’, one is duly warned that these guys mean business; in its simplicity, the band keeps to conventional genres of blues, reggae and a smattering of rock/folk every now and then, flitting between matters of the world in songs like ‘Aaj ki Taaza Fikar’ and‘Khul Ja Re’. It has been characteristic of the Swarathma boys to harp on social issues.
Important to bring to notice is that while Swarathma doesn’t claim to take up a political stand, at the same time it concerns its substance with raising social awareness at the very least; they cautiously stay away from the label of creative activism; how convenient it is really, in these times of uncertainty and indoctrination.
With Loy Mendonsa, Swarathma have come out with an album that is satisfying only mildly, and in isolation. One cannot help but notice something contrived in their use of both language and lyrical content, which is to say, it is slightly shameful that they are appealing to a sensibility. Topiwalleh fails to achieve a universal quality integral to any artistic pursuit, especially a performative one. It is as important for artists to be genuine in their social approach as it is for them to be skilled, and Swarathma seems to lose its balance when toeing that line. Conclusively, it is a pleasant listen, with its quirky overtones, that leaves much to be desired.