Sajid and The Lost Boys: Kid Without Candy
Sajid Akbar, a talented young musician from the confines of New Delhi, first introduced himself to fans of alternative music in India as a member of the now-defunct band Killer Tomatoes. Now, in his new avatar as the guitar-strumming singer-songwriter of Sajid and the Lost Boys, he has cut a record that is not only refreshing, but also represents a remarkable change in the way that alternative music is perceived in India. ‘Kid Without Candy’ revolves around an aesthetic that simultaneously touches upon contentment and displeasure, nostalgia and fresh experiences, and all the hues in between.
The Lost Boys are Abhishek Mathur (electric guitars, textures), Anindo Bose (keyboards, arrangement, programming), Abhishek Mangla (bass), Tarun Balani (drums) and Sajid Akbar (acoustic guitars, vocals).
The album’s sound is characterised by simple yet graceful acoustic performances, clean production, and at its core, a tremendous voice capable of command, inflection and emotion. It is this emotion that manages to capture subtle feelings and thoughts into a musical form in a way that suggests great artistic prowess. At times, the music acquires such a meditative quality that it delves in to the elements of post rock; layers upon layers of beauty fitting into the jigsaw puzzle of the subtle melodic tracks. Lyrically, Sajid achieves a certain poetic elegance which is rarely seen in an Indian record. With Sajid and the Lost Boys, there’s no real hooks, no real choruses, no really overbearing melodies. Rather, it’s the soulfulness and the unique textures which imprint this record in your thoughts.
“Hold On”, a standout track on this album, is full of Sajid’s jazzy, mellow voice shining through the pretty acoustics. There are also his characteristic vocal holds, while the music goes through a gorgeous melody; lyrically, this is one of the best tracks on the album. Another good song is the album opener “The Sky Is Falling”. A subtle build up, with the peaceful serenity that only a folk song can deliver leads up to detailed sonic landscapes, which are tinged with the elegant beauty of perhaps an Espers song. “Mira” speaks of obsessive longing; jangling guitars and Sajid’s honey smooth vocals work together skilfully with the well-written lyrics to result in a gem of a track. “Silent Movies”, with the restrained but fluid drumming and distinct chorus, feels like it could be a Nick Drake song.
The album revolves around an aesthetic that simultaneously touches upon contentment and displeasure, nostalgia and fresh experiences, and all the hues in between.
Most of the songs on ‘Kid Without Candy’ sound like the perfect soundtrack to a lazy quiet drive through tree filled roads, summarised by the title of a song on the album, “Late Afternoon Cardrive”. This is a more downtempo song in which Sajid pleasantly works up to a subtle hook, beseeching his lover to go on an impromptu car drive. The gentle “Pray for Rain”, with its melodious flute gliding around in the background, feels like the ideal music to listen to as the rain pours down while you watch from a cozy room. The slow “Home” is perhaps the weakest of this bunch, and seems aimless in parts.
Sounding like a musical blend of Sufjan Stevens and Elliot Smith, Sajid has created an album which is clearly distilled from personal memories — such emotions are difficult to recreate in such raw beauty. The overt lack of hooks and overall similarity of songs mean that this album is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, the album loses a bit of that magic touch after repeated listens; retaining the magic would indicate a truly classic album. Despite this, ‘Kid Without Candy’ presents a refreshing change from the kind of music that is currently popular in India.
So, while this album might not be earth shattering or one that you can indefinitely listen to, it is definitely one that the listener will almost automatically associate thoughts and feelings with. There may come a day when, after a trying day, you would like nothing better than to listen to a song from ‘Kid Without Candy’. It is the way that Sajid manipulates song textures and moulds them in and around emotions that really makes the album what it is. His voice fills the record like a golden, mellifluous potion, turning the pretty but slightly bland music into a very pleasant album.
If records like Sajid’s can be released and enjoyed in India, then it speaks a lot about the increasing receptiveness of the audience in the country towards a more alternative sound. Sajid Akbar is at the head of a brand new movement, one of folksy singer-songwriters and subtle gorgeousness. There is a lot to improve, but there is also a lot of promise. Sajid Akbar really establishes himself as one to watch for, and ‘Kid Without Candy’ greatly heightens the anticipation of what this man is capable of doing in the future. Truly, it seems as though the Lost Boys have stumbled across something great.