Mayday’s History of Tomorrow Review

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五月天 自传 分析和评价

After 4 years 7 months, Mayday finally launched their 9th studio album on 21 July 2016 to much fanfare. The previous album 第二人生 (The Second Round ) won many accolades and set the bar really high for the new album. Immense anticipation and expectations surrounded the new album. So is it worth the wait?

From a perspective of a fan trying to be objective, I think 自传 (History of Tomorrow) can be considered Mayday’s magnum opus. Stretching over 59 minutes and 59 seconds, with 14 songs and 1 hidden track and a staggering 5939 word count, 自传 is Mayday’s longest album.

自传 tells the Mayday Story. It is a Mayday memoir packed with numerous autobiographical references, insightful commentaries and intense emotions. Many fans were moved to tears by the songs as the album narrates their stories too. Each Mayday album acts as a repository of memories and experiences accumulated at different life stages.

For me, I had goosebumps when I listened to the album. Many songs evoke memories from the past 15 years as I started my journey with Mayday in 2001. For some fans, the first few albums like 爱情万岁 and 人生海海 chronicled their youthful adventures. For others, 时光机, 神的孩子都在跳舞 and 为爱而生 accompanied them during the transition to adulthood while 后青春期的诗 and 第二人生 provided directions and encouragement in the complicated world.

The English title of the album, History of Tomorrow, presents an interesting paradox. History records past events so tomorrow or the future is not part of history. The ambiguous statement creates possibilities for the future to be moulded and inserted into the ongoing narrative.

The impressive repertoire of songs in 自传 showcases a spectrum of themes and emotions. The moving ballads like 如果我们不曾相遇, 后来的我们, 好好 (想把你写成一首歌) and 终于结束的起点 are perfect for emotional catharsis sessions in the karaoke rooms. I am not a great fan of love ballads so I wish they had broadened the scope of the album with some of their signature Taiwanese dialect rock style.

Covering a variety of music genres across 14 Chinese songs, the ambitious album achieves a fine balance between light-hearted songs like 派对动物, 最好的一天 and 你说那 C 和弦就是… and songs about more serious topics. A heavyweight rock anthem, 成名在望 is a complex composition that ruminates on the quest for fame. The introspective mood is continued in 少年他的奇幻漂流’s philosophical meditations of life.

The multi-layered album contains many inter-album references like 后来的我们 which excavates the haunting memories of 突然好想你, 顽固 which echoes the persevering spirit in 倔强 and 人生有限公司 which expands the existential discussion of life in 三个傻瓜.

Like a personal memoir, the album provides a very intimate reflection of the Mayday’s legacy. It celebrates friendship in 兄弟 and Mayday’s underdog story in 任意门. The final chapter of the memoir ends with a culmination of emotions and words in 转眼.

After listening to all the songs in the album, the silent track after 转眼 creates a contemplative space and posits a profound question, “What’s your story?” Did you find your story through the music of Mayday?

To appreciate and understand 自传, I think listeners need at least an hour of full concentration and a lyrics companion. The multi-dimensional songs with many inter-album references and many enigmatic words may post some initial hurdles to newcomers of Mayday music. The listening experience will be enriched with an in-depth understanding of Mayday and their 17-year music journey. However, this is not just a Mayday journey but also a journey of Chinese rock music and a personal journey for those who grew up with Chinese music from the 1990s.

So is this their second last studio album? I guess not. I hope not. With all the effort and time poured into this album, the next album will probably take a while to be produced. Looking at the achievements of this album, I cannot imagine how the final Mayday album will be like. It is definitely bittersweet to think about the final album but this album will probably take a long time to savour!

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This review was planned initially to be written as one article. However, each song is bursting with so much feelings and meanings that I ended up writing about each song. Please click on the song for more detailed analysis. Do leave comments for any songs you feel strongly about! 

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4 Comment

  1. dabdi says: Reply

    Hi Wendy!

    Thank You very much for writing this review! It helps me a lot to understand better the music and the band. I still need some time to read it more carefully and waiting for other analysis. 🙂

    1. Wendy says: Reply

      Hi thanks for reading! Hope it is helpful! I will try to write more!

  2. dabdi says: Reply

    Mayday’s 9th album gained another Hungarian fan for the band, so we ordered 2 CDs together. The music and Ashin’s voice is fascinating, we just need English and Hungarian translations for the songs yet. If I may suggest, we’d like to read about Life of Planet. We both like that song written by Stone very much. 😉

    1. Wendy says: Reply

      Hi! That’s great! More friends who appreciate Mayday music! Ok I will try to publish that soon! Still writing!!! =)

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