Track Review: Sometimes // Manila Grey

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Photo: Manila Grey

Filipino-Canadian duo Manila Grey deliver cool breeze and grey smoke with their latest single, ‘Sometimes’. The track featured in their latest album No Saints on Knight Street has a very airy tone to it. With signature Manila Grey production—courtesy of Azel North—and themes of love, sex and money, they still manage to create something new and extraordinary out of something tired and familiar. Their vocals carry the same aesthetic that many Filipinos will have heard of before, but the western influences are prominent. This in turn delivers a hybrid that is both velvet smooth, but still gritty enough for the lyrics. It helps that the juxtaposition of their voices – of Neeko who’s deep and gruff, and Soliven who’s high and husky – adds further nuance to the already multilayered track.

Just as well, because their music has always been about bridging two very distinct sides of themselves. Even their name, Manila Grey, is a combination of their Filipino origins and their life in Vancouver. “If y’all don’t know, it rains a lot out here. There’s always an overcast to it, and there’s a specific vibe. We call it ‘the grey,’” Soliven says in an interview with NYLON Manila. So, it’s no surprise that ‘Sometimes’ follows that same trend of combining these two worlds. You can hear the rush of Vancouver wind in the drowning of the vocals in the track’s production. But it also has familiar beats found in other Filipino-original music.

The lyrics insist money above love, before backtracking in constant denial. It paces back and forth between repressing romantic feelings, yet craving for that human touch. Talking explicit sex and money spent; the constant circling back from one to other; vivid images of the significant other’s body. All of these things catch listeners with the subliminal understanding of drawing the line between lust and love. Ending in the note “Sometimes I spend too much, money I trust over love, still you get what you want” is the final affirmation that the line has been crossed. And there’s something quite exciting in the thought of that.

Words by Mae Trumata


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