MORE than a year after going solo, Barbie Almalbis has come out with her own album, Parade. The album follows Almalbis’ compilation of hits with her former bands, Hungry Young Poets and Barbie’s Cradle, “Barbie: The Singles,” which featured only one new track, the advertising jingle, “Just a Smile.”

Parade shows no significant changes in Barbie’s music. She keeps to her the usual range of slow, mellow ballads, sung in her soft voice although she tries tracks with catchy rhythms. Like the music, nothing has changed in her songwriting, she still deals mostly with love and heartbreak.

The kick-off, “Dahilan,” open with slow ethnic strings, an apparent attempt to mix world music in Barbie’s repertoire. The typical drum and heavier guitar parts follow in the chorus.

The other songs such as “Give Yourself Away,” “Damsel,” and “Little Miss Spider,” are reminiscent of Barbie’s music with Hungry Young Poets and Barbie’s Cradle.

“Sorry Song” meanwhile, has acoustic guitars, piano, and synthesizers all excellently arranged to create a dreamy sound, coupled with Barbie’s melancholic vocals.

Parade also includes the extremely catchy “Summer Day,” the up-tempo alternative track that is now being used in a shampoo commercial.

It is a relief that the album does not contain the same voicing styles as what Barbie used in “Overdrive,” a cover of the Eraserheads hit, and “High,” an adaptation of The Speaks original rearranged for a duet.

Fans should also be pleased with “012,” which features all the members of Barbie’s Cradle. With their patented sound of guitar solos and drum rolls, the song presents a balance in instrumentation.

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Parade satisfies those who miss fresh compositions from Almalbis, who seem to have gone on a hiatus in songwriting. Although the new songs are good, as with “Give Yourself Away” and “Sorry Song,” it really is a wonder why she had only managed to compose a few songs in a year. Her covers that had also been part in multiple compilation albums, served as album fillers.

Gratefully, the album’s other tracks are good enough to be redeeming qualities. However, “012,” which proves to be an excellent effort, may leave people wondering why Almalbis had to go solo in the first place.

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