• Tue, Apr 23, 2024

Album Review: Is This Biodegradable by Morning Mourning


album Reviews Mar 25, 07:09pm

Delhi’s Morning Mourning brings his own spin to the singer-songwriter scene  

We’ve heard it so many times before: one person with a guitar (sometimes a bit more) singing about dreams, introspection and the other quotable moments of life. The indie-pop scene has been saved from monotony by artists around the world consistently putting out solid material (Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked At Me is still one of the most gut-wrenching albums of the last few years). Closer to home, the form has grown quickly over the last couple of years, mostly due to the success of artists like Prateek Kuhad, Aditi Ramesh, Tajdar Junaid and their experimentation with the genre. On this album, Morning Mourning attempts to craft a collection of cozy and non-intrusive songs that reflect his experiences with change and personal growth. This album is called 'Is This Biodegrabale', released by Delhi-based musician Shantanu Pandit under the act Morning Mourning. 


Half battle is already won when the sound of your album becomes its biggest strength. Clearly, despite limited resources, Pandit manages not only emphasising on the sound, but keeping it minimal. Recorded in his bedroom with a guitar and an old Casio keyboard, the sound is vintage and fuzzy. What most polished releases fail to achieve was achieved merely through natural distortion of the vocal microphones that Pandit uses to sing into.


Pandit (who did all the instrumentation and vocals himself) does not allow anything flashy to overshadow his songwriting ability. "I write song", desribes his Facebook bio, and that's possibly 'Is This Biodegradable' in nutshell. Pandit sings songs. The manner of execution inclines towards simplicity and thus an endearing record unviels itself one song after another. It really sounds like a close friend made some honest songs about his life while sitting next to you. This aesthetic can easily be overdone (and often is), but here it’s just right.


The album is sonically minimal and lyrically personal from the get-go, with opener ‘Fingernails That Grow Forever’; a quiet guitar song about the confusion of growing up. The vocal harmonies give Shantanu’s voice a warm structure. Lyrically, Pandit - in one way or another - reminds the listener of the changes that have occured and defined his evolution as a person.The realization is genuine and poignant, if a bit wordy. The following track ‘Leather Jacket’, lyrically, suggests a conversation between the musician and someone he dearly cared for Sonically, Pandit introduces drum layer for the first time, backed with tons of reverb-soaked vintage keys. The lack of bass sounds on this song and a few others is balanced by a lot of low, rumbling organs, which sound quite foreboding in this lo-fi setting. ‘PVC’, third track off this studio effort, is clearly darker in tone and delivery; a retelling of a story from his times in school, a time when we paid little heed to our appearances and could not understand when we paid a price for it. The sorrow and confusion from those days and the musician's inability to let go off the memories dictate the song's essence. Though subtle, this is possibly the darkest track on the album. ‘Jojo’ is a recording of a phone call set to more keys, and is possibly the most pretentious track on the album. The song does not fit into the sequence, that reflects poor positioning. Not a grave error for a young musician but 'Jojo' drops the listener off track for three complete minutes. While one can appreciate its message with effort, it almost seems like intruding on someone else’s conversation. The sound starts to wear thin and the songs seem overwrought; not necessarily because they are weak, but because they explore ground already covered in the first handful of tracks.  Pandit consciously limits the songs duration to lesser than three minutes for the second half of the album. ‘Being Somebody’ is another song about changing and being a better person. Though it is sincere enough, you’ve heard these thoughts before. At this point, the album really starts to drag.The percussion’s slow waltz is a nice change-up that would have worked in isolation but falls short after the songs before it. The final two tracks 'Young Man' and 'This Winter' reintroduces clean guitar and clearer thoughts and they revolve around death and similar themes. The vibrato on the guitar is a nice sonic addition The album finishes off with ‘This Winter’, yet again a song about how lost he feels and how he does not know his place.


Perhaps, such is the nature of this genre. Even though the album is introspective, it seems as though Morning Mourning is merely looking back and not looking inside. The songs act as a window into his youth and the attached sorrows, however it would have been more prudent to show that the past's impact; that these stories affected him in some way. 'Is This Biodegradable' is always gloomy, always regretful, and always in that middle ground between sorrow and pain. The songs are thoughtful and very listenable as individual pieces, and a few (‘Fingernails That Grow Forever’, ‘PVC’) stand apart. However, the album as a whole is too moody to be enjoyed from start to finish. Misery works best in small doses; ‘Is This Biodegradable’ is weighed down by itself.


Listen/Buy the album here:


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