Pain, Thy Name is Project Orange: “Almost” Out Today

In their new single, Project Orange continues to deliver on much of their earlier promise: hummable tunes, earworm-inducing instrumentation, an undercurrent of sadness that doesn’t bother you, until it does.

I’m the last one to use regionalist tropes as critical crutch, but there’s a first for everything and all that. So here we go.

Project Orange has that magic dust—an easy capability of lending sunshine to even the most wretched of debacles—in great reserve. And they’re from Bacolod: a city equated to smiles (and the disposition this entails) so much and for so long that nobody’s challenged the assertion.

But it’s not a cartoony juxtaposition, mind you.

After all, their music isn’t the audio equivalent of a badly art-directed postcard of their hometown, papery and devoid of nuance.

In other words, though their happiness isn’t a veneer, there are little (almost indiscernible) cracks in the finish.

From their maiden offering (2019’s wee twee romp “Ctrl + Esc”), to their Murakami-referencing follow-up (2020’s “Sputnik Sweetheart”), down to their super-adorbs peak-pandemic single (“Play, Pretend” from the same year), we’ve confirmed what their old college crowd—and, soon after, their surprise Manila-indie following—has always held dear about them: hummable tunes, earworm-inducing instrumentation, an undercurrent of sadness that doesn’t bother you, until it does.

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Their newest single, “Almost,” is tendered from the same mold, except contrapuntal to the band’s usual tack in flavor, cadence, and drama (sans histrionics). In this down-tempo epistle, there is an absent addressee: a lost love, pined for but not chased after. Frankly, you don’t even need to get a narrative grasp of it, because its sense is in its form: its ebb and flow, its embracing of slowness, its regard for the pregnant pause.

“This song is for anyone who has almost had someone but never did,” the band—recently down to a trio from the original quartet—shares in a release. Informed by the work of such musicians as Nightly and The Paper Kites, “Almost” is glorious indie pop without the ironic hold-back.

“I finished the demo in one day back in 2020,” singer-guitarist Diana Mapa says of the track. “Everything just happened in one flow, and I was really happy that I finally found the sound we’ve been looking for the band,” she adds, talking of how the song was inspired by a close friend’s romantic mishap.

“We’re working towards finding ourselves through the noise in the music industry,” the group—which also includes bassist Martin Garces and drummer Miguel San Miguel—further reveals.

If “Almost” is the sound of that continuing search, then I’m all ears. Stream it today and weep.

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