The Review: What is the Cost of Our Lives? We discuss Ignis Brothers’ New Project.

An important consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent
lockdowns (partial, total, Nigerian) is a lot of sudden spare time to rest and think. And as expected, with time to think in a period characterized by loss and uncertainty, our minds stray to the existential; the whys, the hows, the ifs, and whens. On their debut album “The Cost of Our Lives”, indie group Ignis Brothers, ask important questions and gently probe issues that plague us. It is commentary and artistry served in a beautiful melodic dish.

The question of legacy and memory opens up the album. On the introductory track Saint or Sinner, they wonder how they would be remembered, and perhaps even more importantly, they plead with us to be remembered. It is super easy to forget these days, and revisionism is so widespread. All around us; in books, in songs and even tweets, we see “history” been questioned and new truths coming to life. A little digging into the past reveals the shaky foundations of our heroes past and the tainted structures on which we have been hitherto existing. When all is done and dusted, would we be remembered for good or bad? When the generations after us pull up the records, what will be the verdict: Saint or Sinner?

On the same topic of legacy and ambition, we have To Fly which reminds you of Imagine Dragons in 2013. Here our heroes talk ambition and goals and dreams. Like Icarus and Daedalus, they sing about making wings and flying too close to the sun. And even though the eventual outcome is a long fall back to earth, there is contentment and solace in the fact that they did indeed try to fly. Sometimes, the effort is enough, innit?

Time Go Come talks about time (duh) and the seasons of our lives; as the good book says in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything; time for speechlessness, a time when our hearts feel like we are going down a drain and a time when we will stop the tears. Guest artiste Phlow raps about lost days and feeling pressure and stress with the hurdles of life but like the hook stresses that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we will be alright.

On Sands and Shells, we see an all too familiar story of a relationship soured by uncertainty and hurt and a lover committed to pain. The result, i.e turning away from love and focusing on self is inevitable: Ruth Zakari sings:

“Told you once, told you twice, that I’m done being nice, found someone I can love, that person, is me.”

On For You, they sing about the sacrifices and lengths to which they’ll go for their partner. Compared to the frustration and tiredness on Sand and Shells, there is contentment here that is amplified by the discovery of a lover who is more than what was expected (“I never thought that love could ever be mine, I never thought you’d ever be truly be in my arms”).

Loneliness and sadness and anxiety all make an appearance as well. This part of the album is probably the most relatable as these emotions have all showed up at varying degrees of intensity in our lives in the past few weeks. On Alien at Home, the album’s first single, we listen to a tale of a valiant attempt to escape fears and troubles only to be brought back to earth and its harsh realities. Accompanied by a soft piano, we answer Dwin’s questions. Yes, we have all felt like aliens at home. Yes, we have all made mistakes.

On I Lied, guest feature Logan February delivers moving poetry on conquest and loss and sinking into the waves. The hook tells us that our heroes, the Ignis Brothers do go through the same emotions like all of us:

“If I told you I’m not scared,
Oh I lied, Oh I lied,
If I said my heart was steel,
It’s all lies, It’s all lies,
‘Cos the cost of being brave
Is far too much for me…”

Although 11:48 sounds like the title of an introspective song by Drake about the pressures of superstardom and lots of women on his poor Canadian head, it is a lot different from your typical Drizzy song. While there is introspection on this, the subject is a lot of shades darker. Here, the attraction of suicide and the appeal of despair bounces off the piano keys and into our ears/hearts.

“…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…”

The album ends with the second single “Free”. A literal answer to the question the album title poses, we understand here that nothing comes for free. The song is an indictment of the government, religious leaders, and people with responsibility in society. The carelessness and dishonesty and corruption are costing us lives; our children, the next generation is already dying from the effects of these charlatans and their misuse of power and resources. It is a powerful end to a powerful piece of work.

In uncertain times, we seek comfort in the familiar, in relatability. With this album, the Ignis Brothers have given us hope; we are not alone in our struggles. We have people with us; lovers, neighbors, and even corrupt pastors. And while our world is falling apart, and darkness tugs at the seams of our hearts and our cheeks are lined with tears streaming down, let us hold on to hope. And like the song tells us, the time go come when we no go cry at all.

Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu

Area 51 exists and I have proof.

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