People who have had Avial will know how what will happen if it is made without coconut, the thing becomes something else. Something similar has happened to our beloved Malayali alt-rock band named after the dish, Avial. And no points for guessing who’s the coconut here, it is Anandraj Benjamin Paul, erstwhile lead singer of the band.
There are lots of stories floating around about his absence from the line up. One of them being some differences with the record label. And it was said that Anandraj was going to make a comeback for the next album. In the meantime Avial has been touring hard and working on multiple projects. Recently they released what I guess is their first work sans Anandraj. And the fans are crying sacrilege. This is not Avial they scream, and rumours are that the band was even booed at a Bombay gig.
The song in question is Aanakallan, which literally translates to Elephant thief, but figuratively means a big liar. Avial did this for a Malayalam flick, Salt n Pepper. It is a tongue-in-cheek song about a small time thief. And musically it is quite different from their earlier songs. An interlude sounds likes Muse‘s Knights of Cydonia. There is Malayalam folk vocals, there is this rhythm which sounds like funk to me. The bass is quite impressive. The song is something Avial hasn’t tried so far in terms of style, content and yes, vocals. But isn’t it what an alternative band supposed to do?
Avial is a band in transformation, most of the bands are in the middle of some kind of tranformation, only thing is that Anandraj seems to have left too early. Assuming Anandraj is not going to come back, it will be interesting to see Avial’s journey from now on. “Aanakallan” is the first step in that direction (barring Ayyo of which a one minute teaser was released some time back) and I would say Avial has done a good job. The song does take some time to grow on you, but it is surely groovy. I have only seen Avial perform with Tony on the vocals and the crowd response was always good.
All this while he was stepping in for Anandraj, Aanakallan is probably the first song written for Tony and difference is evident. One thing is certain, Anandraj is no Jim Morrison, the loss is mutual, just check out Anandraj’s “Thattum Muttum on Youtube and you will know.