It's gonna to take a while for us to forget all about 3 and the impact made by Why This Kolaver Di. Anirudh is back, after what appeared to be an extended break and is eager to impress once again. He has his buddy Dhanush who has written and sung a few songs for his first ever production. Out of nowhere, Ethir Neechal has jumped on to the race, already crowded with a lot of big names. Do you think it will be able to stand it's ground?
Nijamellam Maranthu Pochu - Dhanush, Anirudh
Anirudh kick starts the album with the very electronic Nijamellam Maranthupochu. Right from the word go, a lot of parallel tracks fall into the mix together and occasionally step up to prominence. Sounding rather uncanny at times, the song draws too close to techno or club music to be called a romantic number. The charanams make way for some focus on the vocals, but considering that the voices are synthesized too, you don't see much natural about the song. Still, you are in for a surprise when you tune in to it the first time.
Dhanush's lyrics, crowded by Anirudh's special effects do indeed add some value to the songs. The verses fade in and out of the beats, but somehow manage to bring out the emotions of the lines. It's hard to notice two singers switching gears amidst all the artificial instrumentation, and the raps seem to get higher priority than the lyrics themselves. An interesting start to the album with a dark and clubby number and some empathy packed in too.
Boomi Enna Suthudhe - Anirudh
This number is sure to make a few heads turn around. It's one of those tracks that still sound refreshing after listening to it on repeat. It's folky; for most of it's part, but still has some great chords and instrumentals, especially during the interludes. The percussion is southern, but the guitar is in the drivers seat and you see how critical it is to the entire arrangement. Every time the beats kick in, the vocals stand out well raising a kind of joy for listeners.
The lyrics are back on track to Dhanush's comfort zone and you can see the difference. Put in the composer's percussions and almost-western guitar, you have a very enjoyable collection. Anirudh's youthful rendition, that's quite similar to Come on Boys (especially when we hear two of his voices) are a sign of confidence he has grown into as a singer. There's even a small female chorus to help him out. The song will connect well with a lot of youngsters and is a good representation of natural expressions. And no, you don't need poetry all the time. Job well done!
Ethir Neechal Adi - Anirudh, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Hip Hop Tamizhan Aadhi
In perhaps the most unique song in the album, Anirudh decides to shell out all the goddies out of Santa's bag. And by this I mean quite literally everything from dramatic vocals, trance-like beats, hip-hops Tamil raps, Punjabi bhangra, and a dozen special effects. It's hard to get hold of every little details in the song, for there are far too many instruments and mixing involved. But after a few listerns, you will start to appreciate the effort of the song. It's certainly one of a kind, and worthy of the man who gave us the Kolaveri fever.
Anirudh again is right in the middle of things. He has the more realistic lines and makes sure his voice gets all the attention it can. Meanwhile, Yo Yo Honey Singh and Aadhi are more like special props that jump in for a short duration and try to impress. You wouldn't get anything significant out of trying to understand the message of the song. Instead, you just sit back and listen in to the variety of things that's on show.
Velicha Poove Vaa - Mohit Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal
Finally, we get to see the first duet of the album in this number. To complement the beautiful vocals that are on showcase, Anirudh setup some great violin and string pieces to highlight the lead track. The percussion also takes a nice turn from his usual style and joins hands with the flute. Despite everything, the track doesn't really settle into a melody. Instead, melody and harmony become one of it's attributes, in a track that is as contemporary as it gets in an album like Ethir Neechal.
Vaali's presence with the words is felt well on this one, and his poetry is evident with the lines. It soothes through line by line as you try to figure out what feelings are trying to play out the song. The length of the song is fairly felt thanks to Mohit and Shreya. While the former does well with the composition, it would still be better to see him sing proper Tamil while his partner has mastered it quite easily. For once, Anirudh steps back on the pedal and makes room for them. Impressive, once again.
Un Paarvayil - Anirudh, Vivek Selva
Lyrics: R.S.Durai Senthilkumar
Un Paarvayil is likely to be used as a background score for it has some of the most emotional compositions in the album. A good doze of strings, flutes and textbook percussion put the song up for listening. The tone is generally quick and there is only a verse of words to accompany them. You might as well mark this one as an instrumental. All the while, you wonder if you have listened to any of it in the past.
Local Boys - Dhanush, Velmurugan
Lyrics: R.S.Durai Selvakumar
The album reaches to a finale in Local Boys. It's a blend of racy music with a bit of hatred mixed in. A lot of typical kuthu instruments in the nadhaswara, melams and trumpets feature in the song, but Anirudh's love for techno is still felt with the chords and the supporting tracks. The pace of the track slows down in the middle of the song, and the stark and sudden difference is impressive, with electric guitar taking up the space after gearing down. Maybe not another Kolveri, but this one would much rather is straightforward kuthu number.
For a song with so much energy and spirit, the lyrics lack the necessary creativity to take off. The musical part of is very appreciable, but you need a lot better to make a hit number these days, even if you are betting big on an item song. Dhanush and Velmurugan go all out to hit the right notes, but sometimes it appears as if they are trying too much. Not a great end to the album.
Overall, Ethir Neechal re-introduces us to Anirudh's refreshing instrumentals and quick-impact music. Boomi Enna Suthudhe is likely to be enjoyed by most while the title track and Velicha Poove let you tune in to some interesting compositions. The lyrics are natural for most of its part, and will be liked by the youth. Our man Anirudh deserves a pat on his back for all his effort and will have a lot of promising music to offer in the upcoming years.
Rating - 3.5/5 - a consolidation's to Anirudh's work from the past, with some added bonuses
Verdict - does well to live up to 3 and the Kolaveri fame