We first became aware of Sky Rabbit at a gig at Hard Rock Café in Mumbai a few years ago. They were named Medusa back then and as they started to play I thought this was a very big and interesting sound coming from a very young looking band. Guitars, bass, drums, vocals and samples, all in good form until, as these things go, a “technical glitch” caused their laptop to shut down and some time was spent trying to solve the problem. The band kept it together and eventually all was well and they continued playing. As we left the gig we talked about how impressed we were by their stage presence and energy.
Time passed and it is clear that the band has maintained a solid track record. 2012 appears to be their year of expansion. Beginning with a new name and a new album. Having only ever heard them live so far, it is an interesting experience to listen to their music off a CD in a disconnected setting. No atmospheric lights, screaming fans, or stacks of speakers to enhance the experience. Just the songs.
At just under 35 minutes the album opens with the crowd favourite Anti-Coke Ganpati, an energetic and quirky song worthy of being the band’s signature tune if they had to pick one. The songs appear to be equal-opportunity showcases for all the members which is impressive given the fact that Sky Rabbit frontman Raxit Tewari has one of the strongest, most interesting voices on the Indian indie music scene. Bass riffs, drum grooves and guitar washes all find equal opportunity to make an impression over the 9 tracks that make up the album. Particularly noteworthy are the songs Sweet Smile Driving, Oil and Swimmer. It must be a matter of capturing the zeitgeist that March, the third track off the album, has an opening riff that brings to mind the 2011 breakthrough hit Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye. The album closes with the moody Hilltop featuring a vocal phrase you can’t help but repeat in a loop and string pads that kick in just when things appear to be getting a tad disaffected and laid back.
The songs lend themselves to being built using vast soundscapes with a strong unfettered energy – kind of like their live performances. In their recorded avatars this is where the album falls short. There is a distinct sense of restraint, like they didn’t, or weren’t allowed to, fully let loose while tracking their parts. The edges seem to have been smoothed out a little more than necessary.
In any case, Sky Rabbit, the album, captures a small part of what the band appears to be all about. For the rest you will have to catch them live, an experience you should definitely make time for if they are playing at a club near you.