Credit: Gmember for the top picture
A little late, I know, considering rock god Sek Loso’s comeback album came out last November, but I was so busy moving, and my friend and fellow translator/reviewer Ann Norman wrote such a lovely review of Sek Loso’s “I’m Back” that I never got to share, so I wanted to finally give everyone a chance to read it~ 🙂
Sek Loso’s new release, aptly titled “I’m Back,” is the first since his hospitalization for drug addiction and a subsequent year-plus-long bout with severe depression, specifically bipolar disorder. His fans and well-wishers can be relieved that the sidelined rockstar has returned with a solid album. I’m not the best one to review it. I know of Sek Loso mainly because of the mutual respect between him and Aed Carabao (Sek calls P’Aed a hero). I am a huge Aed Carabao fan, but even I have to admit that, these days, the younger man outsings our hero. Sek Loso has a rich deep voice with an eerie vibrato. He reminds me of Lady Gaga somehow, being an enormously skilled performer channeling mysterious wild energies. I recently saw a YouTube in which Sek pulls off a flawless and oddly erotic cover of “Booa Loey” while simultaneously smoking a cigarette, playing guitar, and strolling through the crowd, greeting fans.
This comeback album opens a blast of distortion and a “LET’S ROCK AND ROLL!” In this song, “Rock ‘n Roll Star,” he announces that he’s not quitting and not selling his heart. His mouth and his heart are one. He’s a package deal and if you like it, you’ll have to buy the whole thing. I’m still searching for the volume-level that would make this music enjoyable when I make out the chorus: “Because I love you. Do you love me or not? If you don’t love me, I’ll be sad. I don’t understand . . . [So yes?]” That Sek Loso charm encourages me to stay for a second song. It opens with an unrepentant “OOOwwwwwk!!!!” And a “Hooah!” He’s having fun. And this time, so am I. It’s totally satisfying rock ‘n roll.
Next, he slows it down. “หาก” “Hak” (“If”) is the first of several softer love songs showcasing that remarkable voice. He follows with the equally compelling “ขอตายใน อ่อนกอด” “Kaw Dtai Nai On Got Ter” (“I Wish to Die in Your Tender Embrace”). The karaoke singer in all of us will want to join him on the heart-rending refrains. The fifth song “พอฉันเป็นตำรวจ” “Pa Ja Bpen Damruit” (“Enough That [I]’m a Policeman”) is an ode to a good policeman with a low salary, who takes no bribes, keeps the peace, and serves the citizens. This cop “loves Thailand like you [honey] love me.” It’s an upbeat, infectious pop tune and is perhaps my favorite song on the album, partly because I know of nothing lyrically similar in English (although it does remind me of several Carabao classics, including “ท ทหารอดทน” “Taw Tahaan Ot Ton” (“The Persevering Soldier’)). The next song “Pom Tam Yu Tee Jai” (“I Do What is In My Heart”) opens with a throbbing beat, more blasts of distortion, and crashing drums. In an ominous minor key, the singer warns us to tend to what is in the heart because—to use the English expression—people reap what they sow. It is Sek Loso claiming responsibility for his choices and recommending that others do the same.
The seventh song is a straightforward, over-the-top, but ultimately engaging love song that claims: “Even if [I’ve] failed to create an impression, [I] don’t regret having loved.” “เอาอยู่” “Ow Yu” [“I Want to Stay”], about a breakup, contains the most pathetic longing so far. หลอน “Lon” (“Haunt” or “Scare”) is a heavy metal, head-banging tune with long horrifying screams: “Me arai ma gert keun??!!! [What has happened?!!!!] YAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!” Not my thing. The album finishes with a lovely duet with a female singer. With wounded dignity, the love-sick protagonist tries to regain his perspective and break free of a bad relationship:
There must be tons of women in all of Thailand
[So] why does it have to be that I love just one person
And I love with all my heart–so much my heart almost breaks
I don’t know . . .
I will try to love you one more time
[But] this pain here, it will be the last time
In this album, by staying true to himself while admitting his problems, Sek Loso similarly moves to reclaim his dignity. On the cover, Sek holds open his leather jacket to show off a made-for-tourists T-shirt, that says “Thailand” in English, with a flag and an elephant. I know from an interview I heard, that during his illness, his wife suggested they leave Thailand. He said, no, he wouldn’t run from his problems; he would stay and fight. I think the cover means he’s committed to Thailand, and his Thai fans, for better or for worse.
All and all, a very nice comeback album. I’m happy he’s back from the brink. Here’s hoping that going forward he channels all that rebellious energy into his shirtless, screaming guitar solos. That would be awesome. 🙂
If you like what you hear, I encourage you to support the artists and purchase the album legally; It is available world-wide on iTunes, or if you’d prefer a hardcopy CD but are not living in Thailand, eThaiCD.com is a reputable online dealer who offers shipping world-wide – http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=75649&asso=10413