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'The Cost of Our Lives' by Ignis Brothers is one of the best Nigerian albums of 2020 [Album Review]

On a day that saw Terry Apala team up with Major Banggz for his debut body of work and saw Burna Boy release his global spectacle of a Diddy-assist disguised as an album, Twice As Tall, Ignis Brothers might have topped them all.

'Cost of Our Lives' by Ignis Brothers is one of the best Nigerian albums of 2020. (Ignis Brothers)

On a day that saw Terry Apala team up with Major Banggz for his debut body of work and saw Burna Boy release his global spectacle of a Diddy-assist disguised as an album, Twice As Tall, Ignis Brothers might have topped them all. Cost of Our Lives is a spectacle of alternative music that seeps into a listener's soul with alluring claws.

Formed in 2017, Ignis Brothers consists of Edwin Madu (Dwin, The Stoic), Ruth Zakari and Lamide Aranmolate. They released their first single 'Braveheart' in March 2018 and it was featured on Dwin's debut album, Heavy Heart. as well as in an episode of the hit web series Skinny Girl In Transit.

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Released in June 2019, 'Alien at Home' was the first single off the album. Cost of Our Lives is a potpourri of mixed emotions as its songs continually tugs strings of a listener's heart. Sometimes, the songs are happy, sometimes they're sad. Sometimes, they deliver doses of relatable subjects of sadness and sometimes, they encourage.

But at the root of it all is a calm representation of all the sides to humanity and life. As anybody can tell, life ain't always pretty. Core themes of Cost of Our Lives are loss, suicide, death, remembrance, love, pain, heartbreak, healing and encouragement. With deft songwriting at every point, Ignis Brothers deliver vivid pictures.

To match those bits of deft songwriting are well-constructed bits of music production of the alternative fabric. When 'Alien At Home' got released in 2019, it was featured on Vol. 68 of Who Get Ear.

Its excerpt read, "A year after releasing ‘Braveheart,’ this group consisting of the very talented, Dwin The Stoic, Ruth Zakari and Lamide Aranmolate are back with this beautiful ballad.

"Only a few things scream instant affection like a good ballad and this is no different. On the piano chords lie a story about the importance of finding strength when none seems forthcoming. The song preaches how running might harm prospects than even fear threatens to."

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These days, 'Alien At Home' also feels like a tale of longing and loneliness afforded by heartbreak just as violins seek to impose lunacy. At the root of it all is a chilling detail that is underscored by the sonic progression of all the songs on Cost of Our Lives vis-a-vis the introduction of lyrical content.

Nothing typifies this beauty more than when Ruth Zakari sings, "I hear the drums..." on, 'Saint or Sinner' as the drums immediately land like elements of a Junkie XL score. Suspense-themed chords introduce the song with the emotions of a victorious scene in an epic movie.

Alas, 'Saint or Sinner' is anything but victorious. A worthy opener, it sees its characters get attracted to the reality of succumbing to fate in the face of crippling pain. More importantly, the symbolic use of, 'Saint or Sinner' to connote power and weakness is simply amazing.

Still on the path of heartbreak is the Indie tune, 'Time Go Come.' With its effortless switch between percussive rhythms of traditional Nigerian folk is a moment of 'sudden death.'

If 'Saint or Sinner' was a temptation to curl up in a ball and succumb, 'Time Go Come' aims to project the effects of paranoia and sadness that only life's experiences can impose. Phlow aces that verse - quality A&R to get her on this.

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The purpose for all the sadness and loneliness finds roots on the fast-paced pop song, 'Sand and Shells.' It's quite simple; heartbreak and it is captured in such amazing picture-esque detail. 'To Fly' represents the earliest days of convalescence - acceptance. On piano-rich Folk-Rock are subtle doses of acceptance - a shift from crushing negativity.

Its chorus reads, "We're not birds, we can't fly but we did what we could and got close to the sun. Now our wings are all gone and our fall has begun..." Evidently, 'To Fly' is still about heartbreak or a love story on the rocks. But instead of curling up in a ball, the characters admit the joys of their love story while it lasted and look to accept the end of the relationship.

It goes, "We can say that we tried..." This is still not happy, but it is not as dipped in pain. Alas, we arrive at some happiness on, 'For You.' The only problem here is that, 'For You' should have come much earlier on Cost of Our Lives. This way, it would have told a story of how the happy days descended into heartbreak, sadness and then healing.

Good tracklists ensure topical and sonic cohesion/progression. 'I Lied' features Logan February to discuss death in an attractive way. This is reminiscent of the classic Timothy Wangusa poem, 'A Taxi Driver On His Death' or Noname, Smino, Saba and Phoelix on, 'Shadow Man.' Most people are not afraid to die, they are only afraid of what their deaths would mean.

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Here, Ignis Brothers unshackle themselves from 'hard-guyism' and embrace the fears that death can occasion. Their chronicle is not as happy and open as, 'If I Die Young' by The Band Perry. Instead, they are human and open about those fears. So alluring…

‘11:48’ is pessimistic in its detailing of the allure of suicide and depression. The way its hook beautifully details the conviction for suicide is scary, yet beautiful. It reads, “We're waiting, I hear them say. Join us, don't be late. Happiness is oh so fleeting, don't get carried away. ‘Cos there's blood on the pages. there's blood in my heart and soon there'll be blood on everything I own.”

It seems like the song documents suicide by slashing one’s wrists. This is so dark, yet so beautiful. Again, Cost of Our Lives should take props for detail - the ambient beat to ‘11:48’ is very bare, yet so pungent and inspires an uncanny anticipation.

But instead of succumbing, there is a realization that everything has a price. ‘Free’ brings the subject of this album back from the brink. As the Alternative Electronic beat fuses with melodic legatos, nothing suggests a realization that life will get better immediately. Instead, the struggle is embraced and life goes on.

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What this writer is unsure of is whether the pain from the heartbreak and a love story on the rocks inspired the death rhetorics because there is no nexus between it all.

Still, what an album… This is one of the best Nigerian albums of 2020.

Ratings: /10

• 0-1.9: Flop

• 2.0-3.9: Near fall

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• 4.0-5.9: Average

• 6.0-7.9: Victory

• 8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Tracklist: 1.6/2

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Themes, Songwriting and Delivery: 2/2

Production: 1.8/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.8/2

Execution: 1.7/2

Total:

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9.1 - Champion

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