Ben&Ben’s Debut Album ‘Limasawa Street’ Shines with Themes of Love and Optimism
May 18, 2019
Known for their schmaltzy anthems, folk-pop act Ben&Ben delivers a debut album that paints a hopeful portrait illuminating the magic that is love.
In the vastness of today’s musical landscape, there exists a handful of acts whose songs seem to speak directly to you; songs capable of hitting that soft, emotional spot note after note, line after line.
When Ben&Ben (helmed by twins Paolo and Miguel Guico) first released their debut EP back in December 2016, they formally introduced a brand of folk-pop music that sounds rosy, warm, and wistful. And with songs like “Leaves,” “Kathang Isip,” and “Ride Home,” they proved they’re worthy to belong in that category of artists who have that power to give an intimate yet powerful listening experience.
Two and a half years later — with scores of sold-out shows and quite a number of movie soundtrack appearances in between — the duo-turned-nine-piece-collective offers more of their musical deftness as they deliver their first full-length album, “Limasawa Street.”
Bringing Light, Literally and Figuratively
Though long overdue for some of their fans, Ben&Ben’s debut studio album did not fail to deliver the band’s innate poetic sensibilities.
According to guitarist-vocalist Miguel Guico, the 13-track record released under Sony Music is a compilation of songs that “aim to give light to those who listen to it, whatever situation they are in.” This objective is well encapsulated in the album title.
“We came up with word Limasawa, first, because it was the name of the street where [Paolo]’s girlfriend lives. It started there, and we thought it was really interesting. We researched and what we found out was ‘masawa’ is a Butuanon word for ‘light.’ We developed the concept around that — even down to the packaging,” he further shared.
Besides the songs, the band shared that the album itself is literally capable of bringing light to their fans as it also functions as a lamp.
“First of all, we really took the risk to offer a physical album because it’s not something done much these days. We thought that since we’re already releasing physical copies, ‘how about we do it a bit differently?’. That’s why we made the packaging like that,” Miguel noted.
Apart from this feature, the record is also packed with a glass USB drive containing the songs, a lyric book, and a set of postcards with artworks representing each individual track.
“We’ve been working with an artist named Nicolai Maybituin and ever since the start, he’s been the guy who interprets our music visually. I think music is a very visual thing. [Producing visuals] helps people see what you’re seeing when you write [a song],” vocalist-songwriter Paolo shared.
Different Faces of Love
Despite their proven success, Ben&Ben is not one to rest in the comforts of their alley. They thrive in innovation as presented in the songs in their anticipated debut full-length album.
“Limasawa Street” offers tunes whose diverse sonic horizons are unified by their central themes of light, hope, and love. In their upbeat titular track, the band offers a sweet yet adrenaline-inducing escape as they traverse the roads of folk and rock and build a world of their own — one with stars growing on trees and time standing on bare feet.
The album then takes a soulful turn in “Pagtingin,” which they dedicate to those who harbor strong emotions yet afraid to fully let them out. Contrary to the preceding track, “Fall” invites listeners to submit to the magic of love.
The effort picks up pace once again as the band maps out the pains associated with saying goodbye and wishing to go back to happier days in the rather jaunty-sounding “Talaarawan” and “Hummingbird.”
“Mitsa (Salamat)” — a mellow piece about being grateful to the things that were — is the perfect transition to one of the record’s quietest moments, “Baka Sakali.” The song, which features vocal works from one of their musical influences Ebe Dancel, is about holding on to the slightest piece of hope that things can still end up well.
The second half of the album kicks off with “Lucena,” whose bright melodies put the beauty in letting go. The folk-pop collective then presents a socio-political image in the symbolic “Sampaguita” before dishing out a marching sound of love and optimism in the mid-tempo tune, “War.” The song was penned by violinist Kiefer Cabugao, who also lent his voice for this particular track.
The gentleness Ben&Ben has earlier offered in “Leaves” can be found in their album’s “Godsent,” a tender and tranquil cut tackling a beyond-romantic love. As portrayed in the track’s artwork, this piece can be considered a tribute to matriarchal love.
The musical troupe ends the immersive sonic experience that is “Limasawa Street” with their mirthful odes to love, “Roots” and “Araw-Araw.”
Standing Out from the Rest
There’s no denying how Ben&Ben has become one of the biggest names in recent OPM memory. And their newest offering has further cemented their status as a significant creative force in the local music industry.
Nonetheless, before reaching this stage, the band knows that they have to encounter twists and bumps along the way, and that “clashes” are but an inevitable part of the whole process.
“Most of the time, we get to settle on the same thing for the arrangement of some songs. But there are times that our respective feelings for a particular song become so strong that we end up arguing on things that we really shouldn’t be arguing about,” percussionist Andrew De Pano admitted. But for him, “it’s just part of how much [the group] cares for the vision of their music” because at the end of the day, it’s all about finding the best way to convey the message of their songs.
In agreement, Miguel pointed out that what’s important is that the band “constantly communicates.”
“Clashes are part [of the process]. It’s something that should be a phase because if we get past that, something better comes out,” he further shared.
This proper communication, coupled with the band’s passion, innovation, and musical ingenuity gave birth to an opus that shines brightly amidst the vastness of today’s musical landscape. And if they were to give a piece of advice for those aspiring artists who wish to stand out from the rest, Miguel said that it’s all about “being yourself to the fullest.”
“The more that you bare yourself out there, the more people can find themselves in your songs,” he remarked.
Paolo also emphasized that exploring other genres can also help you become unique. “Widen your listening options. The more you listen to different type of music, the more you’ll be able to find the sound you’re aiming for,” he shared.
The folk-pop ensemble is set to inspire more listeners as they embark on a tour promoting their latest album. The series of mall shows, which kicked off on May 17 at Marquee Mall in Pampanga, will take the band to key areas across the country including Subic, Cagayan De Oro, Bacolod, Legazpi, Cavite, Davao, Laguna, and Cebu.
Check out their full schedule below:
Ben&Ben is Paolo Guico (vocals, guitar), Miguel Guico (vocals, guitar), Poch Barretto (electric guitar), Jam Villanueva (drums), Agnes Reoma (bass), Patricia Lasaten (keyboards), Toni Muñoz (percussions), Andrew de Pano (percussions), and Kiefer Cabugao (violin).
Stream their debut album, “Limasawa Street” on Spotify: