It's Not Easy Being Green

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In 1999, one of the Philippines' best-selling and most talented bands, RiverMaya, released its fourth album, It's Not Easy Being Green. This time out, however, the band is without longtime lead singer Bamboo (born Francisco Manalac) who left several months earlier. Assuming lead vocals is Rico Blanco, who several years earlier assumed guitar duties in addition to playing keyboards when guitarist Perfecto De Castro left the group. RiverMaya's albums have all been adventurous outings, and It's Not Easy Being Green continues the tradition. Once again, RiverMaya draws heavily on its Brit-pop influences, as heard here on "(A Little) Sorry (Should Make Everything Alright)" and the contagious "Shattered Like," among others. "Grounded Ang Girlfriend Ko" ("My Girlfriend Is Grounded") is a melodic romp, while the forceful "It's Getting Late" works off a hypnotic chord progression. RiverMaya pushes borders here and the album has the makings of a hit. However, a certain magic is missing, and the album overall seems unfulfilled. For example, "May Kasalanan Ka Sa Akin" ("You Have Sinned Against Me"), has the makings of an outstanding song, but doesn't achieve its full potential. Other songs, including "Prodigal Dub 1 & 2," "Never Been Better," "Homecoming," and "She's So Uncool," also lack a spark. While Blanco is a fine singer, it's possible that the loss of the charismatic Bamboo has shaken the band's confidence. According to the label, It's Not Easy Being Green has reached platinum status (which is 40,000 units sold in the Philippines), making this the band's lowest selling album thus far.