Analogue Music | Jay Som - Anak Ko
Jay Som: Anak Ko

Jay Som: Anak Ko

Artist: Jay Som · Written by Scott Russell

Date Released

23 August, 2019



​For anyone unfamiliar with the work of Malina Mae Duterte, who since 2017 has used the stage name Jay Som, the first thing you need to know is that her records demand the use of headphones—the best headphones you can get your hands on.

A Jay Som record is an experience of artful composition, masterful instrumental technique, and remarkable production. Her 2017 album Everybody Works contained some of my favorite guitar tones of anything I heard that year. This year's release, Anak Ko, goes even further by creating delightful soundscapes that envelop the listener and beg for repeat playback. Alongside Ryan Lott of Son Lux, I would list Duterte in the very top tier of songwriter/producers working today.

The opening track, "If You Want It", starts off with some smart minimalist guitar and bass harmonics accompanied by a crisp drum kit. Malina's vocals join in, and increasingly complex tones swirl around her. Delightfully droopy and dissonant guitar licks join the fray, and the stage for the rest of the record is set. There's a minimalist sentiment here, but it's certainly not uncomplicated. "Superbike", the album's first single, contains the album's most accessible pop moments, including an engaging, reverb-packed call-and-response hook during the verse in place of a typical chorus. Dreamy, fuzz guitar swells to create the song's powerful climax. Believe me, it's toe-tappingly delightful.

"Tenderness" is probably the most interesting song on the whole record. The intro and verse feel much in the same vein as what precedes on the record. A pulsating drum machine in the background of the mix hints at something playful, but then the chorus then takes a left-turn into elevated, danceable pop more in the vein of some of the best tracks on this summer's Carly Rae Jepsen album. Through a bouncy chorus and even a sublime key change, our vocalist sweetly sings: "I'm feeling like we've just begun/ Nothing's ever good enough/ Tenderness is all I've got."

To be a bit presumptive about the intentions of the artist, the most striking element of this record is how it at once feels altogether melancholy and blissful at the same time. An unmistakably chill vibe permeates all nine tracks here, and for most of the album's 34 minutes, it's difficult to determine the emotion that inspired the song. That's not a bad thing; Duterte's gift is an ability to create soundscapes that are bound to generate thoughtfulness and reflection. Every song here is a truly unique collection of timbres that balance each other like a well-planned meal.