Written by Louis Pelingen

Amidst the up-and-coming music collectives putting their marks this year with exciting sonic palettes on their sleeves, KINDRED stands alongside them with the utmost glee. The eight-member boyband that, based on their singles, music videos, and live performances alone, the remarkable quality shines through immediately with how much they work together as a group, able to plug into a focused and genuinely exciting alternative sonic palette despite each member’s own brand of creative flair and perspective. It’s a tangible connection that eventually manifests through ‘Subset’, their debut mixtape being worked on in the oven for around 3 years.

‘Subset’ is a fitting title for the stacked tracklist on display, a mixtape that showcases a glorious array of OPM and Boyband material meshed in with UK Garage, Breakbeat, Alternative R&B, and so much more. Within the 15-track hour-long length of the mixtape, KINDRED’s ability to create joyous eccentricities is surprisingly consistent all throughout, allowing their experiments and flashy energy to easily let the melodies snap brightly, highlighting the boyband’s strength to focus as a unit even more. Just like the singles leading up to this project, the deep cuts are just as colorful and robust. The jersey club bounce of ‘KZONE’, the drum and bass beat leading into that stomping bass rumble on ‘Losing U’, the atmospheric bass knocks of ‘Afterglow’, and the one-two punch of ‘L Punch’ and ‘R Punch’ where the former’s electrifying guitar passages transitions to the latter’s calmer yet nevertheless sticky melodic flows are continuous instances of that creative flair popping away into exciting territory.

The word ‘connections’ is something the boyband emphasized deeply in this project, not just on the romantic relationships that are filled with tender passion and sincere yearning, but also on the inspirations that led them to where they are right now and the bonds that they’ve made and cherished within their own group. ‘Megastar – Interlude’ is one of the two touching examples of this, where Sharon Cuneta questions her stardom that will inevitably fade as she observes her friends getting weary. Yet, she knows that the younger generation like KINDRED will play those old tunes, a message that’s executed dearly with KINDRED harmonizing beautifully with Sharon at the end. ‘Ligaw’ is the other example that speaks of the boyband’s sparkling synergy. Harking to the retro boyband sound where their vocal harmonies harness a sense of grace to that era, a dedication to that past as KINDRED glides towards the future with their bonds, their inspirations, and their relationships moving them further into something worth clinging on.

With the dynamic swerves on display, KINDRED within their creative stronghold not only redefines the concept of a boyband where their bonds allow them to create such magnificent tunes all on their own control but perhaps even open up a new arc for what OPM can head into; infusion of genres that makes for a rejuvenating experience for both the artist and the audience. With the rise of interest towards certain dance-focused electronic genres in the local scene, ‘Subset’ does feel like a celebration of past influences mixed in with contemporary sonic landscapes that brim with a prismatic quality. Perhaps prismatic is the best word to describe the project, with each member’s bright light collectively scattering through different directions, they become varied colors that spark individually yet gleam together as one.

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