Alive is pop duo Bracket’s first studio album since 2011’s Cupid stories and first since the darker skinned half of the group, Nwachukwu Ozioko (Vast) was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a form of cancer of the white blood cells.
Naturally after having passed through such an ordeal, one would expect the duo’s next project to be brimming with introspection and reflection. Bracket encouraged such expectations by choosing to lead the disc with Alive, a vacuum of a song that had the indignity of featuring the worst Tiwa Savage guest verse ever. It’s not just that the lyrics are forgettable, semi inspirational fare,- and they are that,- or that Bracket’s delivery lacks any charm. It is that Savage finds a way to assault tender ear drums by taking the song as far off key as she can get away with. Think talon nails running against a chalkboard and you’d be right on the money. Even the white hot Tanzanian, Diamond’s sweet sing song contribution instantly falls flat.
If the lead single is a sign of things to come, then Alive– the album is instantly doomed. But there is redemption to be found in the form of mopey love songs and silly dance tunes. It is the kind of thing that Bracket knows how to do. To be honest, with previous hits titled Yori yori and Muah muah, no one comes to Bracket for the sublime song writing or expertly crafted pieces of music. We come to them for that feel good supply of contemporary high life fare composed of easy to repeat, syrupy lyrics and danceable beats crafted by the likes of Selebobo and Masterkraft.
Alive dishes it in spades.
It begins with Iyeri, a sugary sweet melding of Pidgin English and Igbo that goes down easy, aided by traditional drums, and mid-tempo percussive instrumentation. This continues through other songs like Ego, My Dear and Comfort. All of the above listed tunes are produced by Selebobo, the hit maker behind Yemi Alade’s career changing Johnny. There is no Johnny moment on Alive and Selebobo continues his extended search for a similar success story to no avail. While his output here is adequate, they suffer the fate of not really standing out and easily blend, one into the other.
Bracket’s long time collaborator Masterkraft weighs in with a basket of similarly crafted melodious tunes, some good, some bad, some just boring. The boys can still sing though and when the record is at its worst, sometimes it is the melodious, understated vocals of both Vast and Smash that save the day.
The guest artistes do not fare better either. Timaya is all dressed up with nowhere to go on Celebrate. Phyno is uninspired (although anyone would be) while approaching the bland material that is Bartender and Flavour phones in his contribution to Egbe belu.
The high points here are Cynthia Morgan who serves up a mean androgynous attitude on the ragga-lite Far away and Tekno who brings serviceable pluck to the otherwise drab Panya. All that remains to seal the deal is a punchy verse from current go to guy Patoranking The disc’s energy quotient is raised considerably with the DJ Arafat assisted Soko, a get up and dance number that thrills as much as it hollers.
The songs on Alive fade non-stop into each other and are quite indistinguishable from the other unless considerable effort is applied. This immediately stops the disc from securing any relevance beyond its immediate sell by date. For non-challenging, so-bad-its-good fare, Alive may be worth the journey. It is formulaic and monotonous and has no pretensions about its modest intentions. Come, dance and be merry. Isn’t that what pop music is about anyway?
– Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)