Review: Estranged’s ‘Sepenuhnya Vol. 1’ solid return for one of Malaysia’s favourite bands

Kavinish Nair is a young musician and youth culture advocate from MMU School of Cinematic Arts, Nusajaya. Here, he shares his thoughts on Estranged’s latest EP, released in January this year. Follow him on Twitter and Soundcloud.

Local alternative outfit Estranged returned earlier this year with a Universal Music deal after a three-year hiatus. Brand new extended play Sepenuhnya Vol. 1 — their first commercial release since 2013’s Anugerah Hidup — aimed to push the Bornean band into the regional market with a bite-sized sampling of Estranged’s trademark nusantara pop-rock.

Riding on the success of second single “Hancur Aku”, the release of Sepenuhnya launched the band back into recognition with a vengeance. The aforementioned track, which features film darling Fazura, eventually became the band’s biggest hit to date, amassing over four million views on Youtube alone.

600x600Compensating for the track’s minimal guitar riffs is a haunting piano progression serving its featured vocalist well; Fazura has never sounded better. “Hancur Aku” also boasts distinctly Sabahan influences in term of arrangements, giving the track an identity and setting it apart from contemporary Malaysian pop.

The song sums up why Universal saw enough potential in the band to invest in a marketing, promotion and distribution deal. Despite their eagerness to create music true to their roots and selves, Estranged have always proven to be well-versed in hit-making.

On the rest of Sepenuhnya, Estranged brings back their own, unique sound, one that fans have grown accustomed to over the years since the inception of 2004’s groundbreaking In Hating Memory.

Album opener, a particularly upbeat record called “Bangkit”, pairs an easy-listening chord progression with frontman Rich Gimbang’s familiar vocals. It’s a pleasant welcome which also doubles as an anthem of perseverance.

Official first single “Inginkan Kau”, released last September, meanwhile presents one of the most creative moments on the album. Coupling structured drumming with a catchy, lingering guitar riff, the oriental-infused cut possesses a standout bridge which thumps and swells from a combination of percussion and strings.

It’s apparent that tracks about love lost and won shine on Sepenuhnya Vol. 1, as expected from a band of Estranged’s stature and experience.

Proving a solid effort from a well-respected Malaysian band, the album has a notable summery vibe — nevermind in Malaysia it’s always summer — that’s tinged with melancholy. It’s a largely-relatable effort; expect Estranged’s latest EP to soundtrack your daily life soon.

Running approximately 20 minutes in length, Sepenuhnya Vol. 1 successfully proves one important fact: Estranged is back.

Like what you read? Then get Sepenuhnya Vol. 1 on iTunes! Find out more about Estranged’s music and tour schedule on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

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