If you missed their two Cairo concerts last May, and haven’t got a copy of their eponymous debut album, we highly recommend that you check out Mashrou’ Leila, whose second album El Hal Romancy will be released this July 29th.
Mashrou’ Leila is a Lebanese alternative rock/folk band that has created quite a buzz on the underground scene in recent years. The band became hit the limelight after its successful two videos ‘Rakset Leila’ and ‘Fasateen’. Young, vibrant and funky, this band puts on one hell of a live show; their charisma and musical creativity make Mashrou’ Leila one of the most memorable and exciting live performances out there.
The seven-person ensemble describe themselves as less of a band and more of a project; the literal translation for Mashrou’ Leila is ‘overnight project’, one that consists of two guitars, one keyboard, bass and drums as well as a violin, which is heavily present on all the songs and adds a melancholic element to the band’s music.
Cairo 360 was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new album, and we absolutely love it. El Hal Romancy consists of only six tracks, which may disappoint fans but it will constantly be on repeat; you just can’t get enough of them. The songs are brilliant, whether it's vocalist Hamed Sinno’s haunting cries on ‘El Mouqadima’ or the seamless way that song transitions into the bass-heavy intro of ‘Habibi’. From the witty lyrics on gender confusion on ‘Imm El Jacket’ to the gentle heartbreak on ‘Inni Mneeh’, this album is a tight compilation of songs infused with melancholy, passion, satire and most of all, personality. The addition of a backing orchestra arrangement further emphasizes the beautiful melodies that Mashrou’ Leila has become synonymous with.
The band’s sound is quintessentially Lebanese, and connotes an atmosphere of youthfulness, resilience and liberal expression:
‘Even when we don’t write about Beirut directly, it’s still very much there in our sensibilities,’ explained Sinno. Sung entirely in the Lebanese dialect of Arabic, some songs may be difficult for the less Lebanese-proficient listener, but it’s hard to miss the lyrics’ general meaning and theme.
Formed in 2008 as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut, the band has toured the Middle East and Europe and played at several international festivals, including the Cairo Jazz Festival last May.
The band recognises that El Hal Romancy has a more refined and sophisticated quality compared to their debut effort.
‘Ever since we started recording El Hal Romancy, we knew that we had evolved a lot musically since the first album,’ said Sinno.
Cairo 360’s advance copy of the album has been on constant replay, and we’re excited to bring you our review of El Hal Romancy on its release date, July 29th.