On sabbatical from originality

On sabbatical from originality

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iii
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cd cover/handout
by Sunny Tse

On their second album If I Am ..., local band Mr show how far they've come in terms of musical craftsmanship and technique. It's frustrating to see them replace the musical diversity of their debut Mister with catchy, likeable but far-from-original Canto-pop.

If I Am ... picks up literally where the debut ended: opener Back is a Cantonese version of 15, the last track on Mister. It starts gently with simple chords, but once the full band comes in, it becomes more dynamic.

Then comes the energetic, Brit-poppy Swing which urges you to shake your troubles away by listening to rock music.

Frontman Alan Po's vocals have been frequently compared to Eason Chan yik-shun's versatile voice, which inspired the five-piece to write If I Were Eason Chan. The playful number would sit comfortably on a Chan album and even features a cameo appearance by the star. This song, and anti-development anthem Forest, sum up how much the band has improved in writing relevant, poetic lyrics.

But the rock stops there. What's left is decent, but not especially impressive Canto-pop. Slow ballads like Encounter and Searching for a Thousand Times are cheesy, sentimental numbers young female listeners will like.

The album (bizarrely) comes with the debut, music videos and behind-the-scenes footage - a bargain for potential fans.

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