Imago – Effect Desired None (2010)

imago4Probably Not But Most Definitely had me confused. They could have easily given Cynthia Alexander a run for her money (not that record sales equates to big money in the early aughts, not that there were any significant record sales numbers to begin with), I just don’t get what the (vagina) monologues are for. What is a box? What is a bra? Somebody enlighten me please.

Take 2 is probably more focused, but the non-singles most definitely needs more variation. And the less we talk about their third, the better—after which they became one of the most hated band in the world.

Okay, not really. But some indie kids definitely hated “Taralets” to their hipster bones (inasmuch as they hated Hale) and I myself couldn’t stand “Anino” anymore and that music video where they played ABBA (i.e., Under Repair). Just to make things clear, I like ABBA.

Imago’s last album before the revamp, Effect Desired None, was touted as the band’s best by some—if only for the reason that, finally here’s an Imago album that approximates the joy of watching them live (which then reminds me again of all the energetic dancing and their awkward ABBA tribute-music video). Live, they are a tight unit and even without the dancing and jumping, they’re definitely dope to watch. But there’s definitely more to the songs themselves than to how their recorded version sounds.

Like one famous songwriter from the ’90s, Aia de Leon seems to be torn between respectability and accessibility, between what’s she thinks the audience wants and what she really wants to do. The band switched genre between each album—from folk, to rock, to pop—sometimes to mixed results. In Effect Desired None, it’s as if she/they finally found a way to balance things out.

And that’s one thing that really put this album way ahead of Take 2 and Blush, that “careful” balance—between the things we love (and sometimes hate) about them, between their folk roots, their poppy side, their quirks. PNBMD was impressive if sort of pretentious from start to finish, but the quirky monologues distracts from it. Take 2 went for heavier, darker—making the dancy numbers and freestyle rapping seem out of place. Some complained Blush was cheesy, the problem though was that there weren’t enough good songs in it. Which brings me to the other thing that sets Effect Desired None apart—the strong songwriting, their strongest since PNBMD.

With the widely different and conflicting incarnations they had with their first three albums, Aia de Leon/Imago, it seems, has finally come to terms with herself/themselves in Effect Desired None. And the results are amazing: she had me at nagpapakipot lang.