It all started out as a “jam” band, with Siddharth Coutto (drums, Zero) experimenting with vocals, while Meghshyam accompanies him on guitars and Jai (drummer, PDV) filling in on the drums. They first hit the spotlight in early 2005 being selected as one of the winners of the [v] Launchpad concert. They first got my attention when I came to know that their first original, “For Luke” was made on the spot, just so that they could still take part in that very competition. And now, after seeing them live a number of times, I have no qualms in talking about their debut album, “Thank You. Come Again”
When you first catch a good glimpse of the album, you’ll notice the Hindi titles. Man, when Sidd comes out to play, he certainly brings along the goodies. With a simple drawing of a closed shop shutter, and a good warm color scheme, the album does get your attention, but only to a certain limit. After that, the music takes over. A thing to note is that once again, there are no lyrics provided… damn.
Well, first up we have a rejuvenated rendering of “For Luke”. Immediately, you notice three things, viz. Meghu’s funky riffs, Jai’s unique drumming sense and Sidd’s really awesome vocals. This song is based around Luke Kenny, and was, as I said, created on the spot as an OC for the band to enter the Launchpad concert. It sets the perfect mood for an album which oozes funk, especially the ad-libbing done by Sidd during the interlude. By the way, if by the end of the album, the chorus is not on your mind 24/7, then man, you need better ears.
The follow up to the intro track is “Mr. Fancypants”, where again, the chorus is way too catchy… Lyrically, I don’t quite get the story, but hey, when the music is good enough, I really don’t see the point of having amazing lyrics (though that’s always a plus point). What caught my ear was the really kickass intro to the guitar solo which ends off into a very stereotypical tune (most likely you’ll remember “My Sacrifice”). Towards the end, it does drag a bit, but I’m left wondering who’s on back up vocals.
A very chilled out, palm muted riff brings us to what is the masterpiece of this album, “Sometimes”. A very simple verse structure, the song fuses Bob Marley style reggae with funk rock… and this simplicity makes you listen to the lyrics intently. And boy, do they not disappoint. The lyrics are very thought provoking, and you’ll be able to identify with at least one line here. Meghu’s solo is warm enough, and it blends in perfectly with the feel of the song. The interlude and drum build up only add more of an emotional touch to the song… This is the second longest track on the album, and there’s not a single point where you’d feel like skipping on to the next track.
RHCP fans… don’t even think that the bass has been overlooked here. With a decent bass intro, which the Flea would notice, we enter “Little Bit Of This”. Now, as a follow up to a lovely ballad, this song does manage to change the mood a bit, but then again, it loses out because of it’s positioning. Somehow, I can’t catch a word of what Sidd is crooning, except the chorus… But hey, this is the longest track of this album, clocking in at one second more than “Sometimes”. We see good use of the crybaby pedal here, and it does remind me of the master himself… But the sad part is that the song does drag on in the middle, something that could’ve easily been avoided. Then again, it’s very tough to be perfect…
Soft-rock realms, here we come. With a lovely, high on emotion guitar intro and supreme vocal talent by Sidd himself, “All Is Lost” again manages to change my mood. The music makes me drift off into the land of beautiful valleys, bright yellow sunshine, while at the back of my head, the lyrics have a different effect altogether. I get a really mature feel from Meghu’s solo here. The interlude of this song is something, which I didn’t quite expect, with up-tempo stuff that leaves a lovely heavy after-taste for the rest of the song. This again is quite a lengthy track, but yet again, you don’t want to skip this either.
Now comes a track, which will really get you off your couch and on your feet. Funk rock to the max, I say put the system volume on max and enjoy the craziness of this one here. I’m talking about “The Marching Song”, which, I think is based on those tiny creatures we call ants. Then again, I maybe wrong here. Heck with it. The high point of this track has to be the interlude, which takes me by surprise. Sidd’s really good on vocals man, and so is the bassist. This track is worth the wait.
Old-school reggae intro, and vocals with a heavy Jamaican accent. That’s the beauty of “SSG”, which means, uh, well; you should know it by now. Seriously, this is the track, which got HFC the attention they deserve. And now that I’ve witnessed them live quite some times, I know this is by far the most requested track to the band. The chorus is simple, and there’s no surprise why the crowd likes it so much. The heavy part kicks in at around 2:59, and the whole mood of the song changes. Moshpits everywhere… You’re bound to remember the chorus, and the supreme drum outro by Jai is well, too “Jai” for words. After this one, there’s no surprise that “I’m flying high, oh eh…”
The last track is not even a track. It’s just the band around a mic, with an acoustic guitar, just showing us their wackiness. With really sad jokes, band stories, bad impressions, especially the Marathi manus. Man, I bet you’ll be figuring out this track for a long time to come, and I’m pretty sure that you’ll definitely hear it over and over again. This is really stupid humor, and its bound to make you laugh. And hey, do me a favor; don’t question the necessity of this one. Oh and by the way, the track is titled “Thank You, Come Again.”
Man, that 40-minute trip gets over fast. And then, you want to go back to track one and listen to the whole album again. Siddharth is awesome on vocals. I never realized that he was so damn good. Meghu’s surely earned his stripes as the funk master of the Indian rock scene, and as for Jai, well, to be able to tell a drummer because of his unique style of pounding his kit is well, unique. Helga’s Fun Castle are the band to be, whether you look at them musically, lyrically, or even on the stage. They’ve knitted together a very good album, something, which I’m sure I’ll be hearing a lot more of. Kudos guys, very well done.
My Top Tracks: Sometimes, SSG, The Marching Song, All Is Lost, For Luke
Overall Rating: 8.5/10