After a year and a half of hiatus, Thuy Tien—the rock chick who inspired me to create “Ao Dai Trang A Oi” motion slideshow based on her eccentric composition—makes a quiet return as Narcissus (“a young man who pined away in love for his own image in a pool of water and was transformed into the flower that bears his name.” –American Heritage Dictionary). The concept of dark, mysterious metamorphosis, which smoked up once again by producer and songwriter Quoc Bao, is a masterful complement to Thuy Tien’s introverted personality and idiosyncratic style.
Narcissus (Thuy Tien Vol.2) sets off the night mood with a brief a-cappella intro, in which Quoc Bao distorted Thuy Tien’s vocals to make her sounds like an alien from out of space. As soon as “Ngay Binh Thuong” begins, we’re maneuvered into her stream-of-consciousness epic. Even though the tune is just about an ordinary day, Thuy Tien floats her ethereal vocals into the hypnotic rock beat like a ghost passing through flying bullets, then ends the piece with a cute little giggle. On “Mo,” she lures us into her dream as she transmutes herself into a nightingale roaming away into the darkness. As the beat gets harder, her voice gets creepier. Yet the pinnacle of her vocal and lyrical artistry comes to life in “Dong Song Mo Coi,” in which she pens about her deceased father: “Dem buon nam khoc nho cha. Loi kinh me ru, ‘au o… au o… Ngu ngoan con nhe, cha di mat roi khong ve nua dau.’” After the soft and sensual piano lays down the harmony to escort her folksy crooning, the rhythm section takes over and rocks the joint up, but it is the Jimi Hendrix’s riff from guitarist Anh Tuan that sets the tune ablaze. Unfortunately, she departs from the hardbeat rock with “Bay Gio” where her voice becomes so banal that not even the jazzy keyboard could save the dullness. “Thuy Tien,” the title track, is a complete disaster when Nam Khanh pours his opera shit into the chorus. “Quen,” however, testifies her maturity in handling slow tempo. From her breath to her emotional control, you could feel her pain when she burns the night with her eyes, yet she doesn’t need your pity.
The outro “Nocturnal” almost closes out the album. Lord knows what she sings in English, and thank God the trance-flavored “I Could Still Love,” is a bonus track. I suppose when the bass thumps like it is about to blow out your speakers, you don’t need to make out what the hell the lyric is about. Quoc Bao, once again, is showing off his writing in English, and makes the poor girl suffers. Still, he’s a damn innovator, and a cocksure one too. Mad props to him and Thuy Tien for this groundbreaking work that surpasses Ha Tran’s Communication ’06 without making too much hype out of it.