Truly it is a blessing if a band has reached 12 blissful years of success. For a band that is as talented, hardworking and blessed as Imago (bassist Myrene Academia, lead guitarist Tim Cacho, drummer Zach Lucero and lead vocalist Aia de Leon); thereÆs hardly any more effect to desire for. And that message is clear listening to Effect Desired None, ImagoÆs fourth album under Universal Records featuring the lead single ôHuling Yakap Ng Mundoö which promises to follow the footsteps of the bandÆs most popular ballads ôAkapö and ôSundoö. Effect Desired None was produced by Buddy Zabala and Romel Sanchez and features album artwork by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (whose credits include majority of the Eraserheads discography, among many others).
ôI still remember our humble beginningsö, says Aia. ôWeÆve had a fantastic journey where everything we did and achieved was a milestone, from our first rehearsal to our first gig, the friendships that we made along the way.ö
It has been a rollercoaster 12 years for Imago, who first came to prominence with their critically-acclaimed debut album Probably Not But Most Definitely which encapsulated the bandÆs early roots-influenced acoustic-laden album. The band then staked out and went indie for their follow-up albumTake 2! which had a more electric guitar driven, pop-rock/ alternative take on things. The album was also the first to feature ImagoÆs present line-up. The album was bolstered with the release of the hit single ôAkapö, which cemented ImagoÆs status as one of the most in-demand acts in the live circuit. ImagoÆs popularity skyrocketed with their third album Blush, which featured a more youth -oriented, bubbly musical approach and the hits ôTaraletsö and ôSundoö. This was their first album with Universal Records and also the first to hit Gold.
Fast forward to Effect Desired None. The most remarkable thing about this album is that it is a potpourri of the elements that made each of the bandÆs albums distinctive; a true barometer of where Imago is at after 12 memorable and hard-worked years. The clever lyricism and powerful singing voice of Aia comes through the solid musicianship of the rest of the band.
Opening track ôBawalö begins with a fast steady beat and made memorable by crystalline guitars and a driving chorus (ôMasaya sa una/Madali kang sakyan/at ginto ang oras/ngunit nasan ka?ö). The aforementioned single ôHuling Yakap Ng Mundoö takes on a more contemplative and reflective tone to its hit predecessors which is a wise move considering the more heartbreaking and martyr-ish theme (ôKasama ba ako?/sa puwang sa buhay mo/itatawid kita/sa dulo ng pangakong babasagin mo?ö). ôHuling Yakap Ng Mundoö is followed by another martyr-themed song, the insanely catchy and breezy ôSutilö (ôLasapin ang ligayang baon ko/kahit sutil ang pag-ibig moö). ôSa Ngalan Moö begins with sparse guitar arrangement and is a conversational ballad of spirituality (ôPano mo iibigin/ang isang katulad kong marupok?). ôYahooö follows in the upbeat tradition of classic Imago songs such as ôAninoö and ôTaraletsö, but it has that sense of urgency that begs to be taken more seriously (ômadaling hawakan/ang kamay ng tukso/kung di ka mag-ingat/ikaw ang malalagotö).
The sweet, spoken word bilingual title track is hands down one of the catchiest songs in the album (ôthe fun stuff is in the trivial unpoetic/ unsung moments of your lifeö). The breezy ôPremonitionö is about moving on with life (ôwhatÆs in a bruise that you can learn from/whatÆs in a scar and the story it tells of?)ö. ôCan Iö is a cute song that somehow manages to show spirituality and puppy love at the same time (ôOnly if itÆs your will Lord/Keep him safe and steady/but please, please make him really love meö). The album ends on a high note with the albumÆs final two songs, namely ôSagadö (ôhetoÆt umaamin ako/sa di ko nakita/nahihibang at nahilo/sa pulsong madulasö) and ôSpare Change Glitterö (ôYou keep on running but you never ever go awayö), two songs that have great potential to be cult hits for ImagoÆs biggest fans.
As Aia would sing in the closing lines of the last song: ôThings donÆt come easy I know/Adjust your vision and your flow/donÆt you get it/I still am running the showö. A fitting valedictory address for a valedictory album such as Effect Desired None.