Albums Of The Week

Music reviews: Local singer-songwriters Nicholas Chim and Leon Markcus get personal in new works

Nicholas Chim (above) and Leon Markcus (right) sing about heartbreak.
Nicholas Chim (above) and Leon Markcus sing about heartbreak.PHOTOS: MARILYN YUN JIN, LEON MARKCUS
Nicholas Chim (above) and Leon Markcus (right) sing about heartbreak.
Nicholas Chim and Leon Markcus (above) sing about heartbreak.PHOTOS: MARILYN YUN JIN, LEON MARKCUS

Songs about failed relationships take centre stage in home-grown singers Nicholas Chim and Leon Markcus' new releases

Woe to those who step on the toes of singer-songwriters - you might just get a song or two dedicated to you, a la Taylor Swift.

At least that is what it feels like when one is listening to two recently released EPs by home-grown troubadours Nicholas Chim and Leon Markcus.

Chim, a familiar name in the scene known for his heartfelt paeans to heartbreak, is painfully candid on The Greatest Enemy, his first new release in three years.

Opening track God You're A Tool is especially vehement. The former guitarist of indie rockers Vertical Rush sings: "We trade our lines on the phone/Play this game out just so you know/You're a f***ing tool and it shows/There's really no excuse for your soul."

A failed relationship yields Overboard, where Chim, 32, muses: "Get over yourself, love/This vision is flawed/Stop chasing romance, love/ Cos we're over, we're overboard."

You feel his pain as much as you feel bad for the subject of his ire.

  • Nicholas Chim (above) and Leon Markcus (right) sing about heartbreak.

    FOLK/INDIE ROCK

    THE GREATEST ENEMY

    Nicholas Chim

    Self-released

    4 stars

  • Nicholas Chim (above) and Leon Markcus (right) sing about heartbreak.

    POP

    MANNEQUIN - EP

    Leon Markcus

    Self-released

    3 stars

Chim's usual stripped-down voice-and-guitar live act is beefed up with the expansive sounds of a full band and string section, adding a layer of melancholic beauty to the tunes.

His baritone nevertheless rings true above the lush instrumentation, whether it is the pristine plucked acoustic guitar strings on Under Your Scar ("All you've done all these years/All this fighting, all these tears adds up to nothing") or the rising crescendo of drums at the end of Come On Sing Out.

Newcomer Leon Markcus, the alter-ego of 20-year-old Leon Chua Jun Rong, also takes on failed relationships and manipulative ex-lovers.

The jaunty This Is How It Goes Down, with its call-and-response chorus, is full of vitriol, with him planning comeuppance against an erstwhile beau who did him wrong ("Do the b**** walk like you do").

On the title track, a pastiche of 1960s pop, he croons about how a lifeless Mannequin makes a better companion than any lover ("My mannequin boyfriend/I need no woman and I need no man").

While the overall production is a little lacklustre and could do with more punch, Mannequin is a commendable, refreshing and deeply personal collection of flamboyant, dramatic pop tunes that sets him apart from other budding home-grown talents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'To all the ones they've loved before'. Print Edition | Subscribe