Thirteen Shanghai Classic Pop-Rock Hit Songs is an album to have fun with music, to listen to it with friends, to drink while is playing, to sing if you know Shanghainese. The songs are about every day life in Shanghai, themes travel around the streets of Shanghai, and in the trip the songs meet with classic local characters and situations. Thirteen Shanghai Classic Pop-Rock Hit Songs features a wide variety of musical styles, a popular characteristic of Top Floor Circus. The production of the album is nicely finished with a cool decoration of sounds that add more to the party vibe of the album.
Top Floor Circus reminds me of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Los Twists, two great bands of Latin rock, with ska influences, and whatever-is-there-to-mix with rock too, similar style and vibe to Top Floor Circus. Mei’Er on guitar does great riffs all along the album, riffs that remind you of your invisible guitar that’s standing right there, and it really wants to be played. LuChen sings and leads with great attitude all the songs, even if you don’t understand Shanghainese you can have fun just following the character behind the voice. There are some great romantic moments dedicated to the “ayis” (the cleaning lady, called in Chinese “auntie”, that takes care of our homes), to the Suzhou river, to their football team Shenhua, and even about doing gigs around town. Top Floor Circus has the great talent to choose very well the right simple elements, and how to combine them in the correct way to obtain great results.
The low moment of the album to me is the last song “上海童年” (“Shanghai Childhood”), it’s just a thing of tastes (funny), if I’d be Chinese probably I would take it differently, but I’m not, and this song is just one too many pinks together, I get the point that this kind of tune is a classic style of Chinese ballad, kind of lullaby, but it’s just not my kind of music yet. I rather highlight the solid exploration that Top Floor Circus does in the sounds that music impersonates in Shanghai, I think they were just missing an electronic tune and they would have finished a complete description of the musical landscape of Shanghai. They move from punk to blues to drinking anthems to heavy rock to folk (kind of bossa folk), and they move smoothly. They are not strong everywhere but they know where to exploit their skills, and where to keep it simple. Top Floor Circus is a smart, fun, and creative band. And they are a classic of Shanghai’s rock scene.
I specially like “快递员” (“Couriers”) a rock song with a good swing, specially for a moto trip of course. “我爱外来妹” (“I love outside girl”) about why they prefer girls that are not from Shanghai, it has a fun vibe, and a fun drum solo at the end. “申花啊，申花” (“Shenhua Oh Shenhua”) the anthem for their football team is a great party song.”Fake Polite Rules” has great riffs, and it ends saying “As long as everyone gives a little fake polite, the world peace is sure to realize “, interesting. A swinging blues, “我想有个家” (“I Want A Home”), a classy match of music and theme. “小白领” (“A White Collar Song”), another good match of subject and style, hard rock about the pains of struggling for work, and then working for a big company in Shanghai. This one reminds me a lot of Molotov (amazing Mexican rock band), those two notes on the guitar, plus the changes of intensity are familiar, they pull your arms up and push you to headbang with them. And “进来白相相” (“Come In, Have Some Fun”) is a sweet turn, it has a good opening, and a catchy melody, easy to fall in it, and it’s about a classic of Shanghai, “girly bars”.
Thirteen Shanghai Classic Pop-Rock Hit Songs is a nice collection of songs, thirteen songs that for sure want to call the attention, they are a smiling challenge to superstition, and to every day life in Shanghai.
Thirteen Shanghai Classic Pop-Rock Hit Songs was released at the end of 2010. It’s available for free download on Top Floor Circus Douban page.
Also listen, download, and read the lyrics in Chinese and English on the page of Thirteen Shanghai Classic Pop-Rock Hit Songs on Xiami.