ALBUM: ‘Pelota Court’ – Maude

A quick search on the Internet reveals that “pelota” (the Spanish word for ‘ball’) is any variety of court games that requires a rubber-cored ball. In the Philippines, it’s widely known as jai alai. The band, however, said that they chose the album name as an indirect reference to the 1970s and a nod to local music at the time, popularly referred to as Manila Sound, that stretched further than what was initially thought of as a passing trend, and bore little semblance to the decade it followed and eventually changed how music was made. This was the era of Apo Hiking Society, VST & Co., Asin, Juan de la Cruz Band, The Boyfriends, Rico J. Puno, Hotdog, Hagibis, Wadab, and many others.

Coincidentally, Maude is doing more than reference a ball game on their album. For one, the sound palette ofPelota Court is similar to what a local radio in the ‘70s would play: brisk, carefree, and melodic – songs that were crafted with the art of making it sound effortlessly done but on the contrary, weren’t. Same with Pelota Court, which turned out to be a dichotomy of lyrical and musical expressions. ‘Eve’, ‘Keep You’, and ‘Made To Last’ celebrate storybook love and even touched on the thrill of the chase – themes that usually comprise a romantic song. But the funny thing is, as French filmmaker Catherine Breillat once pointed out, “’Romantic’ doesn’t mean sugary. It’s dark and tormented — the furor of passion, the despair of an idealism that you can’t attain.” And so it did. However, ‘Grab’ and ‘Sikreto’ were penned based on something – while not uncommon – that was not always sung about: a forbidden love affair (or bordering in one). It is almost a sonic dissertation on the spiraling process of coveting: the other man/woman’s love songs that never were.

On the same vein as Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’, Tegan and Sara’s ‘Shock To Your System’, New Order’s ‘True Faith’, and even Up Dharma Down’s ‘Luna’ is ‘Ride Your Car’, a sad song (“I’m here/He’s in L.A” sums up the point) masked by percussive arrangements layered with infectious melodies. ‘Habol’ and ‘Takda’ both start austere, where one can distinctly hear each song’s stem – bass, guitar, and drums – apart until all instruments sound converged towards the middle, blending harmoniously and like most of the songs in the album, beckoning you to move and dance, just listen carefully to the bass lines of ‘Takda’. Because maybe unrequited love stings, but then maybe you can just dance away that itch. ‘Sunshine’, and ‘Stand and Step’ are the ‘how-tos’ of recovery and the aftermath of heartbreak. Evidently, Maude covered all the bases. Lastly, there’s an irresistible charm with ‘Smoke’ that definitely lasts beyond the end of the song. Its somewhat tortured poetry (“Ask the smoke how to/Break free from its own fire”), willowy riffs, and stompy tempo fit the bill of great loungecore music. It’s classy, endearing, cozy, and poetic – almost feels like tasting a good glass of Tennessee whiskey.

Overall, there are no theatrics in Pelota Court. The ample acoustics and percussions, as well as the songwriting are more than enough to carry out the message the album wants to convey: love is and isn’t simple. Ultimately, music greatly reflects the state of our relationships, or lack thereof. Love might be damning difficult, but then again you can just choose to let go. Just like ‘Stand and Step’ goes, “Humans don’t fly, but we can get high.”

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