Great albums

Mirzya feels something like a kaleidoscopic Hindi film musical given the Coke Studio Pakistan treatment. From a hypnotic blend of folk artistes with electronic music to light classical numbers playing out like a breezy, jazz concert, the fusion felt organic. It was this year’s Bombay Velvet; a brave, beautiful album that didn’t care for trends, and paid the price for it.

Fitoor features the gorgeous Pashmina and the trippy, synth-pop Ranga Re. But none has the originality of Hone Do Batiyan, a sororal duet, sung by Zeb Bangash and Nandini Srikar as though the two ladies are merely talking. Note how differently Bangash renders Haminastu, like a gypsy with a slightly foreign accent. Both these songs have a sense of the film’s setting, Kashmir, and its women. Amit Trivedi’s Udta Punjab soundtrack captured the dark heart of a drugged out state, in the electronic underthrob of Chitta Ve and the groovy Da Da Dasse. The pure, joyous Hass Nach Le harks back to a more innocent Punjab.

Composer-lyricist duo of the year

Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya’s partnership went from strength to strength in two contrasting, back-to-back albums. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was packed with chartbusters: The jaunty Break Up Song and the emotional Channa Mereya are our picks.

Dangal is more unusual. While Haanikaarak Bapu brings back humour to the Hindi film song, Dhaakad turns the misogyny associated with hip hop on its head.

One-off moments

Even a disappointing A.R. Rahman album like Mohenjo Daro had a couple of takeaways. Sindhu Ma recalls the devotional songs of Rahman, and the free-form aalap he sings is pure madness. The exquisite wordless piece Whispers Of The Heart treats Arjun Chandy’s voice like an instrument, to haunting effect.

Ram Sampath had fun in Raman Raghav 2.0 with Behooda, a sexy retro-themed electronic track sung with sass by Nayantara Bhatkal. Dear Zindagi had its moments too: Tu Hi Hai is a simple but enjoyable song and Taareefon Se takes moody turns like a jazz-ghazal hybrid. Arijit Singh improvises wonderfully on it.

The more, the merrier

A mellow, dreamy song that features acoustic guitars, a gentle whistle and the whispering, adolescent voices of Jasleen Royal and Prateek Kuhad— Kho Gaye Hum Kahan was the bright spot in the crowded blandness of multiple-composer albums. Royal’s other song from Baar Baar Dekho, Nach De Ne Saare has the sing-song quality of a ladies sangeet number and a youthful energy. Mikey McCleary, who gets credit as producer in the Befikre album, makes Vishal-Shekhar’s likable, old-fashioned melodies sound light, hip and European. Labon Ka Karobaar, sung by Papon, is the pick of the album.

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