8.0 out of 10 | iTunes | Buy CD
With their first album release only a few years ago, The Happy Analogues have done it again, taking fans back to school with their follow up double album, “School Tales” which as the band describes is “a collection of songs celebrating school life in the Philippines.” Even though I’ve never been to school in the Philippines, there are still similar themes we can all relate to – puppy love, youthful shenanigans, homework and the sadness that comes when it’s all over. If one were to compare THA to the Beatles, one of their stated influences, then certainly the first album is like the mop top band of the early 60s and the second album is like their sound later in the same decade, demonstrating a definite progression with expansion and experimentation of different musical styles.
The two-disc album starts off with “Homeroom” which brings us back to the first day of school with its vibrant, energetic and hard-driving beats. Ted Reyes exhibits his storytelling/song-writing abilities once again with such songs as “School is Cool” which starts out with slow, melodic verses that are then contrasted by the quick, catchy refrain, “now school is cool.” It’s surprising and completely takes you off guard, much like the feeling you get when riding a roller coaster as it ascends up the first hill, reaches the peak then plunges down at accelerating speeds – it leaves you breathless and screaming for more. We also get a humorous view of the guys in THA, their friends and what they did to get “Suspended,” which is currently stuck in my head at the moment. “Just Always Keep on Loving” is a happy, tender song characteristic of Paul’s song-writing style that we’ve come to grow and love. The album ends appropriately with the bittersweet “Graduation Day” sung by Ronnie Lao.
“School Tales” is packed with goodies – and I’m not just talking about the “Wonder Nutribun” (a wheat bun distributed to public elementary schools in the Philippines as part of a government malnutrition prevention program in the early 80s). For one, several songs on the album feature The Kuwagos front man, Gatchie Ignacio and his harmonica. In addition, THA fans will appreciate “End Notes” from the first album which in itself is a great song but it doesn’t hurt that it’s familiar and we already know all the words.
What makes THA stand out is their attention to detail – from the album jacket, to the collection of very different but similarly themed songs compiled on this album. Unlike “Lilacs and Politics,” their sophomore album has a majority of songs in Tagalog or Taglish which might deter a few listeners but there are still a handful of songs completely in English. Regardless of whether you’re a native Filipino or not, you can appreciate the album for what it is – good music with clever lyrics and catchy tunes.
Verdict: From the comedic to the romantic to the more melodramatic; listeners are given a good mix so there’s a little something here for everyone.