Signal W’s dreamlike second album Wonder How We Got Here grooves on simple pleasures
The pop/rock band’s ethereal compositions are meditative and trippy, and sound best when you’re grooving to them with a G&T in hand.
You’re scanning a house party and meet your friend’s gaze from the other side of the room. You’re in a car with your lover and realise your love won’t make the journey. You’re about to fall asleep and await whatever Sandman has to offer.
These are some of the feelings that Signal W’s second album, Wonder How We Got Here, evokes.
It doesn’t take much for the pop/rock band’s dream-like soundscape to cast its spell. The music’s muffled notes wrap around you like a blanket while its verses whisper sweet nothings. The album is reminiscent of blurry Friday nights past driving under sodium lights looking for a moment’s escape.
The Goa-based band’s music is groovy and versatile. Its ethereal compositions rely heavily on the juggling act between Devasheesh Sharma’s mastery of the electric guitar and the smooth drum work that worships the cymbals. They are cushioned by bassist Nihar Apte’s steady rhythm while Anukool Raman’s soothing vocals, often non-binary in character, make you want to pour a gin and tonic just to vibe with him.
The music was concocted during the pandemic to give the band some sanity amid isolation. “The songs in this album emerged from the blend of emotions we experienced—love, celebration, frustration, and sadness—all channelled into an energetic expression,” Signal W notes in a press release.
Wonder How We Got Here is certainly bubbling with passion and its songs—an ode to the simple pleasures of life—range from something out of a 2000s rock concert to something you play at a house party when everyone’s drunk to their fill.
Bejewel, which is bursting at the seams of its own composition, makes you feel alive with its high-octane percussions and heavier guitar. Similarly, the head-bobbing number Who is Nothing—is perfect to rouse up a crowd and end a concert on a high.
Meanwhile, songs like Close and Needs bring out the bass and weds it with the crisp shimmer of the hi-hat cymbal. They are meditative and trippy, and sound best when you close your eyes and flow with Raman’s vocals.
The 10-song album is like a bouquet of dreams, some of which stand out on their own.
Vent is futuristic, something that may be played in a space discotheque as alien lovers find each other’s company. It is sharp, edgy and wonderfully mixed and mastered by Miti Adhikari, as he has done for the rest of the album.
Wonder How We Got Here is also flavoured with melancholy and heartbreak but never makes you feel sad.
While Close expresses a casual, unrequited attachment, Drug is more rueful and pensive with lyrics like “Asking you alone to let me go, I’m feeling pretty sure of what I’m seeing.” The song may not have the effect of a drug but it certainly explains why it was needed in the first place.
There’s also Care, one for the road. The number has a cinematic quality to it, as if offering glimpses of a couple in their youth as they travel around the country. It’s in songs like these where Joe Panicker’s production shines through. He is also the drummer throughout the album.
“The songs are built on simple ideas, but they're adorned with playful complexity, like flowers in spring,” Signal W notes in the release.
Heart is flirtatious and reminds one of the simplicities of first love, like a shy boy who doesn’t know how to flirt and puts his heart out straight. The electric guitar is king here but not in a way that it stands out. It’s foggy, misty, and surreal—and best reflects the album’s theme.
For me, it’s Dreamer that is the cherry on the cake. I’ve been listening to the single for a while now and has been shuffled innumerably in my playlist. Your heart flutters when Raman climbs a couple of octaves and leaves you there. The single acts like a bridge between the album’s rock sensibilities and its pop music.
Signal W’s music stays long after you’ve played it. While its namesake debut album was serene and experimental, making a solid impression with numbers like Meh and Starfall, Wonder How We Got Here has a romantic inclination that’s hard to find with pop/rock bands in India. Its soundscape feels like a dream that’s about to end and destined to be a fading memory, but you hold on to it nonetheless.
The lyrics aren’t cerebral and verses like “The more that I keep looking, the less that I seem to understand” from Bejewel are attuned to the dreamlike quality of the music.
The album is for keeps.
Wonder How We Got Here will be released on Apple Music on September 18 and available on all music platforms a week later. The band is also hosting a listening session at Villa 259, Assagao on September 17.
(Disclaimer: Signal W’s band member Nihar Apte is an employee at YourStory.)
Edited by Akanksha Sarma