By Shazwan Zulkiffli
In the middle of all the Go Gegarias, KSLSS and other Malaysian indie rock revival activities, lies a group of seasoned industry players, making noise in their own unique way in the fringes of Damansara, somewhere. Sweetass first captured my attention with an innovative album cover, a parody of the classic Kacang Cap Tangan Ngan Yin standing out in the middle my Facebook timeline of dog memes and variations of the Yodeling Walmart Kid.
As a 90s kid who’s currently almost obsessed in consuming any components of pop cultural nostalgia, the album cover got me clicking on the link but what caught me by surprise was a hearty, grainy and grungy drive back down the memory lane all together. In their album Wa Caya Lu, Sweetass presented a species of grunge that most frizzy-haired, flannel-wearing Malaysian grunge bands have overlooked as it puts you right in between Foo Fighters’ fan-favorite albums The Colour & The Shape and There Is Nothing Left To Lose.
Wa Caya Lu starts with a track called ‘Naughty By Nature’ that sets the tone, the imagery as it also fine-tunes your expectations on how the other six songs may sound like but in ‘A-OK’, the vocalist Alang, brings out his inner Grohl to perform a rare tengking style scream that is capable of causing goosebumps. ‘Aria’ and ‘1995’ are probably the overzealous rockstars in the album, but you can’t miss out on ‘Suria’ and ‘Wa Caya Lu’ either. Senang cakap, all killer no filler lah.
Funnily, the band calls their genre Haruan Cina Noise, for Grohl knows what reason. But really, it is quite difficult to point which adik-angkat-tiri-dua-pupu part of rock or grunge that Sweetass is currently fiddling with. Wa Caya Lu feels like a geographical reinvention of Seattle grunge but with more character; it’s as if the album/genre was built around Malaysian suburban 90s nostalgia that was never celebrated in a mainstream scale – the RM6 gigs, the grammatically berterabur fanzines, the pop-pop mercun and such.
It will be naive for me to say that this band is igniting some kind of Grunge Is Not Dead movement or pandering to a crowd that’s literally just Nirvana fans. Frankly however, not everyone has the cojones to play what they really want to play, without worrying too much about what the crowd wants – and that’s what the members of Sweetass have – big fucking cojones.
Check out their songs here: