One element that has been consistent in Shivang Arora‘s past releases (his recent single Can I Fall For You Again for instance) is a sense of comforting numbness. One can exist to their fullest all day long but it’s at night when one often calms down from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. That’s when music by artists like Arora suits the mood. His new EP again delivers on ambient emotions with soothing instrumental arrangements.
Let’s take another metaphor to fully decipher the atmosphere of Fantasy and Folklore. Imagine that you are at a cafe or bar and a lively jazz or rock group has just set the stage ablaze. And then as the night darkens, you might find a mellowed-down indie-pop singer crooning bittersweet tunes on love, and solitude (preferably composed on an acoustic guitar). The melancholic yet heartwarming mood that would set at that moment; that’s what this EP tends to sound like.
It’s a 3 track EP with each chapter clocking over 2 to 3 minutes, making it perfect to be heard in one go. In fact, it would be unjust to compare each track individually as they all complement each other so well thematically. And maybe, that’s how the EP doesn’t seem forced. The songs seem perfectly placed next to each other, sharing a common sound, a sad sound of hopelessness. Lyrically, if one is to analyse, the songs seem to stem out of a heavily personal mindset, considering the songwriter seems to have been burdened with the weight of his own thoughts.
Make Me Happy Once Again opens the EP, brimming with gentle acoustic strumming. So, even if the lyrics might be documenting a low point in the artist’s life, the instrumentation is such that it’s enough to make one feel calm. Arora’s dreamy and ethereal voice can hook listeners who are into slow-paced tranquil pop, like the discography of Cigarettes After Sex and Kodaline. Fantasy and Folklore ends with arguably its best track, simply titled Say Something.
The story of Say Something is evident in its title. The central character of the track tries to reach out to someone close, hoping that certain someone talks to him and helps in getting him out of his glumness. This particular song is also accompanied with a music video, one that features Shivang Arora daintily walking generic Indian roads and markets, stopping at a flower shop for a rose, and then finally meeting a woman (the aforementioned ‘someone’). However, the woman seems to treat him like a ghost and gets in a car, driving away from his life. A dejected Shivang then throws the rose and walks on.
The end of this video, very much like the end of the EP concludes on an open note. He doesn’t offer any straightforward answers; there’s no closure offered to stop his moody blues but maybe that’s how it is sometimes. You can’t expect one’s loneliness to just fade away in a flash.
Lyrically, the EP is pretty simple and straightforward, adorned with some ‘young romance’ naivety. While the EP definitely is calming to listen to, the songs can get a bit monotonous in terms of Arora’s slightly sluggish vocals. It’s a good-enough stylistic choice that has worked for several indie-pop vocalists before but it would be amusing to find the artist experimenting with more sounds. Barring such nitpicking, Fantasy & Folklore is worthy of being played on repeat, especially if you’re lovesick…
Verdict: The lyrics might be carved out of loneliness, but the listeners would be anything but lonely with Shivang Arora’s soothing tracks.