X'Ho's work has always been a combination of anger and fun and what you choose to see reflects yourself and what you care or don't care about. Yet the reviews say so little about what Zircon Gov. Pawn Starz's debut album, Follywood, is saying. Something is obviously wrong here because no album in the last decade has made such a clear effort to define $ingapore. By Philip Cheah.



It makes me sick to read reviews that try to be clever about describing the music on this album, and then go on to say that: "Follywood… should be seen as an invaluable entry to the nation's ongoing efforts to loosen up."

And the reviews say so little about what Zircon Gov. Pawn Starz, (made up of X'Ho, Yeow and Sue-Sue) is saying. Something is obviously wrong here because no album in the last decade has made such a clear effort to define $ingapore. This is the most fucking punk rock album we have ever had even if it's electro-clash that the songs are couched in.

Mouthless Fish, the opening track, are us, the ones who can "barely breathe," who are gripped, squeezed and arm-locked but without a voice. Drop The Attitude, Fucker is an attack on stardom in Singapore, that it's a shallow joke because you're nothing more than an establishment celebrity. The attitude is fake because you can't be a star outside the mainstream. As X'Ho notes: "There's nothing better than being a Durian star/Just remember, be proud of the Durian/They might even give you a public service award."

Media Whore parodies the mainstream media: "Just look pretty/Stay mum/But most of all, obedient." Nightmare On 8 & 5 continues the band's gaze at the media, this time, it's the brain jelly they serve up on TV: "Little soaps to set you free/You turn the knobs, they turn the tide." Digit Nation is a litany of happy government PR: "Hip & funky/No corruption/Wonderful free speech… /Speakers' Corner/Electro-gantries."

The problem of separating content from the image has never left us. Which is why in an odd way, we will look at this album as a fashion statement. We will ignore it for its glam, for its famous guests from Chicks On Speed, Coil to Futon. We will discuss the merit of the music and the remixes by Case, Kiat and Ashidiq and Jason Tan's production.

Like so many other things, we will choose to see the fun but not the anger. X'Ho's work has always been a combination of both and what you choose to see reflects yourself and what you care or don't care about. For the album to feature a parody of the national crest, for its insistence on believing in an opposition (the establishment line is that there's no credible opposition), if you think Follywood is all fun, then you're living in it.

Footnote: Long after the album is over, your brain rings with these two true phrases: "Nu-school fucker, Singapore fucker!"




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