Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  More slinky blues

When the Mumbai electro pop duo Madboy/Mink released their debut EP All Ball last year, listeners were taken in by the dance-friendly swing, disco and funk mash-ups. But a truer indication of the talent of any artist probably lies in how they build up on that initial promise. Madboy/Mink has released their next EP, Union Farm, and the sophomore effort adds newer layers to their already signature style.

Guitarist Imaad Shah and vocalist Saba Azad comprise Madboy/Mink, and they have a clever way of synthesizing their love for a diverse range of genres to produce music that is distinctly their own. It is retro, but with a contemporary edge.

On All Ball, they took inspiration from the lowdown sounds that emanated from the Harlem speakeasies in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the swagger of 1970s funk and disco. On Union Farm, the net is cast wider with garage and heavy rock sounds lending the tracks a rawer feel. The swinging guitars on All Ball have turned dirtier with a slinky blues vibe to it. The new tunes with thudding drums also feel more alive, and are perhaps closer to their explosive gigs.

Shah and Azad have had a punishing schedule for the past year. Recently, they managed to find some time off to hole up inside a studio to finish the four tracks that make up Union Farm. But before that they managed to widen their fan base by appearing on the soundtrack of Dibakar Banerjee’s film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! They added new Hindi lyrics to their swinging number Taste Your Kiss from All Ball, renaming it Calcutta Kiss.

With Bollywood music dwarfing everything else, it was a shrewd move, and they have taken it further and included an original Hindi track on their new EP—the very disco-sounding Sharaabi. Azad is of course, no stranger to delivering odes to alcohol, as heard on the delightfully saucy Dil Ki Toh Lag Gayi from the 2013 film, Nautanki Saala!. From the synths and percussion that kick-start Sharaabi, we are transported to the late 1970s. One can almost visualize Parveen Babi or Zeenat Aman dancing under strobe lights.

But the real meat of the EP is the first couple of tracks. Fire In The Street has grungy bass and flashy funk guitar. It is the earworm of the set. It also has vaguely political and environmental undertones with references to the “queen balling the world with Uncle Sam". The ambiguous lyrics that are often hidden under the murky groove add a layer of mystique. The hedonistic Powders with its distorted guitars (one can guess what it may be) is where the title of the EP comes from. The closer Mousegirl is the most clean-sounding song on the EP and is a rewind to earlier times.

While some Madboy/Mink fans (read those who don’t attend gigs) may be a bit surprised, others will be pleased that the duo has gone some way in replicating their live sound.

Union Farm, available at Madboymink.bandcamp.com, is free to download, or pay what you like.

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