Sweet, but still the same
Yousaf Rizvi and Nauman Bari return to the spotlight after three years with their debut record, Dil Nahin Manta. Instep lends an ear
By Maheen Sabeeh
Artist: Yousaf Rizvi and Nauman Bari
Album: Dil Nahin Manta**
In 2006, Yousaf Rizvi and Nauman Bari, two young, unknown faces debuted on the music scene with a beautiful ballad, 'Dil Nahin Manta'. With languid vocals, subtle guitars, haunting flute and a spanking video for the single (directed by Zeeshan Parwez), Yousaf and Nauman caught attention. Soon after, the two disappeared into their lives but even then promised a record would surely come out.
Now in 2009, Yousaf and Nauman have made good on their word.
The guys are back with their solo debut album, Dil Nahin Manta, but the mistakes are too many to forget.
For one thing, Dil Nahin Manta, the album, contains just eight singles, of which two are remixes. Eight tracks make for a shorter album, one that should be sharp and tight in every sphere. However, Dil Nahin Manta has 'rookie' stamped all over it.
The lead single, which released as the album hit stores nationwide, 'Aa Jao' is average. Nothing like its predecessor, 'Aa Jao' is cheesy bubblegum pop. For one thing, the vocals are extremely dull on this number. The melody is neither groovy and the words forgettable. A remix of the same, done by Zeeshan Parwez, is actually far more appealing.
With thumping beats, eclectic studio wizardry has given this song quite a few layers. And that remains the saving grace of the remix.
'Aik Ajnabi' begins on a gloomy note but it picks up speed and is a fairly decent tune. Even on 'Aik Ajnabi', the vocals sound stifled at times but the song has a catchy tune.
Lyrically, it's not exactly poetic. But the words that go, "Yeh Dharkan Meri/Kya Mujh Se Kahey/Yeh Dil Kyun Mera/Na Buss Mein Raha/Who Eik Ajnabi/Jo Hai Duur Bhi/Mujhe Apna Sa Kyun Lag Ne Laga" gel with the tune rather nicely.
On a more ambitious note is 'Main Tere Qurbaan'. Written by Baba Bulley Shah, this particular poem escalated to fame with Riaz Ali Qadri's rendition of the same on the record, Supreme Ishq. That glorious version is hard to forget. As much as one avoids comparisons, it slyly comes and knocks on memory's door. The mind works in mysterious ways.
'Main Tere Qurbaan' is pale. To their credit, Yousaf and Nauman did make an effort here because the song doesn't sound like a rip-off of Riaz Ali Qadri's version. But sticking to the generic pop-rock boundary doesn't work for them. However, the original still makes more sense than its remix, which is just dull and feels endless with its breakbeat.
The redeeming factor comes in with 'Nostalgia' - a song about growing up, reminiscing over the carefree days of college, friendships and relationships lost in the real world. It begins slowly but grungy guitars soon pick up the trail and its just makes the song more bouncy. 'Nostalgia' is soothing in one place and equally energetic in other portions. It's an interesting sound.
'Tu Kahan Hai' is mediocre with its long-extended riffs without a groove, rhythm in mind. Even the words fall flat. "Mausam Haseen Hai/Tu Kahan Hai/" - there's no real ring to it. The unnecessary riffs only make things worse.
Yousaf and Nauman have a long way to go. They are definitely promising but the solid debut one hoped for from this duo doesn't exist. It isn't that Dil Nahin Manta is unbearable. No, that's not the case. But there is no real edge. No swirling pop gems ever come out.
The sound of Yousaf and Nauman is good ol' pop-rock but it's a genre that Pakistani musicians excel at. Everyone from Atif Aslam to Ali Zafar, Strings and Hadiqa Kiyani, among many others, have been at it for years. And they do a fine job melting synth-pop with electronica, grungy guitars and percussion frenzy.
The records that stand tall are ones that have dared to break out of shackles of commercial music. Ali Azmat, Mauj, Zeb and Haniya, Mekaal Hasan Band and Overload are some names that come to mind. All of these artists had a punch to their debut albums, and they have left an imprint on Pakistani pop music. The same cannot be said for Dil Nahin Manta.
This record has a lot of input from quite a few players. And perhaps these names help redeeming the album from complete oblivion. Music arrangements come from pros like Salman Albert, Hasil Kureshi, Zeeshan Parwez and Khawar. Equally split is the lyrical section where lyrics range from Late Ahmed Anees to the poetry of Baba Bulley Shah, Ali Mehdi, Sharaniya Raj Gopal as well as one half of the duo, Nauman Bari.
In the end, Dil Nahin Manta is an average record. It is a straightforward album, too straightforward and plain to be remembered. Perhaps following the signature of the title track would make more sense for this act to survive in the long run.