In 2001, Philippine rock band Moonstar 88 released Popcorn. The band's sound often alternates within the same song from tender acoustic stylings to a raucous, hard-edged sound. Most of the songs' melodies are sinuous and contain many twists and turns, and include a number of unexpected pauses and breaks. The band features a female lead singer, Acel Bisa, who also plays guitar. The opening, "Bata," begins on a catchy, reverb-tinged guitar riff. The female vocalist enters after several measures of the riff and sings a cheerful melody that veers unexpectedly into dissonance and back. The chorus is catchy. The song also contains a break where the female vocalist repeatedly sings a syllabic "Do do do do" over a soft bassline, soon fortified by searing electric guitar. Despite the adventurousness, however, the song lacks staying power. This is a problem that plagues most songs here. The band's intentions are laudable, but the songs often seem amateurish and need firmer direction. One problem is that the female vocalist's voice isn't always convincing enough and often lacks the depth or versatility to bring the songs to full strength, as heard on "Fall on Me," the acoustic "Sa Langit" (In Heaven), and the straight-ahead rocker, "Doors," among others. "Untamed" opens on a fast, nearly punkish chord progression, oozing with attitude and raw-edged guitar. Acel Bisa's vocals here are better than heard on most other songs. "Moonstar 88" has good intentions, but the band's music needs tightening up, and Acel Bisa needs to develop her voice.
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AllMusic Review by David Gonzales