AUDIO JUNKIE: Lola Amour: Sonic Hindsight is 2020

Published December 14, 2020, 7:44 AM

by Punch Liwanag

If at first you don’t succeed, then just re-record the whole album, said nobody in particular. But that’s the underlying credo that drove Lola Amour on their recently released EP entitled “Don’t Look Back – Revisited.” 

But before we go there, some context. 

Lola Amour is a seven-piece band from Muntinlupa which, according to their FB profile, “dabbles in the genres of modern rock, funk and pop.” Sure enough, the band, which includes singer-guitarist Pio Dumayas, bassist Raymond King, lead guitarist Zoe Gonzales, keyboardist Martin Kim, drummer Renzo Santos, and augmenting the basic rhythm section on brass are Angelo Mesina on trumpet and Joxx Perez on sax, make good on said self description. 

This much is evident on their 2017 debut EP “Don’t Look Back.” The opening track on that set called “Fools” sure reminded us of the rousing qualities a horn-inflected band bring. Funky and rockin’ sure, but “Maybe Maybe” sounded even better. The horns augment those catchy melodies, and at times it turns dreamy with the synth motifs that bubble underneath as the choruses ring “’Cause I don’t see the point in telling her I love her / when I know it goes one ear and out the other.” Nice. 

And we’re reminded of Bamboo circa 2006 “Peace Man” as we listen to Lola Amour’s equally fetching “No Tomorrow.” The difference though is that they sound young and you can hear it. You could say that they actually sound a little wet behind the ears on these songs and could still do with a lot more flamboyance. Ditto on the short but similar sounding “Piece Of Mind” whose feel good harmonies remind of The Housemartins. But you know, it’s there. They have the tunes but could use a bit more grit. 

Fast forward to today and Lola Amour reconvene for their full length debut and what to they do? Well, revisit the first EP and make it better before moving on of course. The band said “we’ve been working religiously on our debut album for almost 3 years now and the closer we got to that new era of our music the more it felt like it was our last chance to visit the EP before we had to move on.” Hence, “Don’t Look Back – Revisited.”

They explain further by saying “revisiting our old songs meant we couldn’t change the lyrics but it did leave us with a challenge: that is to find ways to create meaning through context. These songs were written back when we were teenagers and over the past few years, we’ve learned so much and grown into so much more than what we were then – both as artists and as people.” 

Their new take on “No Tomorrow” is markedly different. From the upbeat original to the pensive 2020 version. And the band’s picked some new approaches too with layering their voices. And that solo trumpet that pops in and out of the song only is its own emotional expression and adds to the drama. Dreamy keys layered underneath frames singer Pio Dumayas vocals which noticeably changed tone for the better. “Maybe Maybe” too has changed in that it’s more subdued. With the vocals a tad more whispery, the interplay more relaxed. We can imagine Lola Amour mixing these versions live—playing with dynamics. “Fools” is reincarnated as a piano-decked lounge number. Lola Amour do add a new track here, a lovely piano strewn ballad called “Please Don’t Leave.”  

For Lola Amour, sonic hindsight is indeed 2020.