Begum Gul Bakaoli Sarfarosh, Noori’s first studio album after a whole decade, is finally here. I had been hearing about it since 2010. And searching through KoolMuzone’s archives led me into find this:

“Noori‘s long awaited 3rd album ‘Rahi Yahan Kay’ is slated for release in September 2010. It was previously named as ‘Begum Gul Baqoli Sarfarosh’ but the band has now changed it to ‘Rahi Yahan Kay”

Noori hasn’t been inactive in this period. They’ve released 2 originals, 2 songs with Pepsi Smash, 5 songs with Coke Studio, several OSTs and songs for commercials and a live album. They are also one of the few bands that have been doing regular shows, post 2005. But all everyone has really wanted is a full studio album and it is here at last.

Most of the songs in the album were written even before Suno Kay May Hoon Jawan was released. It is supposed to be the first album in the trilogy which had Peeli Patti (their second release) as the middle and their debut album, Suno Kay May Hoon Jawan as the conclusion.

The album consists of 9 songs, 3 of which are reworked versions of songs you have already heard before. Among these three are Kedaar – covered on Coke Studio – and 1947 and Mujhe Roko; both of which had unreleased versions floating the internet.  This leaves behind 6 new songs of which Aik tha Badshah has already been released as a single.That leaves five new songs in this album, which really makes me wish that after 10 years they could have come up with a larger set of songs

The album starts off with 1947, which is one of the best songs from the album. The song opens with an announcement by the Pakistan broadcasting service of the morning of independence. 1947 explores the feelings of the protagonist of the album Begum Gul Bakaoli Sarfarosh about partition. It has clips from news reports from the partition and also has Ali Noor reciting a part of Subah–e–Azadi by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The whole album echoes This is War by 30 Seconds to Mars and this is very noticeable in this song.The concepts and ideas throughout the songs are very grand and the feelings of hope and introspection are amplified by recordings of chanting fans.

There is some subtle use of synths throughout the album and it is the most obvious in the song Hey Ya which opens up with some vintage style synth leads. Another thing to notice in this song is Ali Hamza’s style of singing, which resembles Shankar Mahadevan. Besides these things, this song for me is the most forgettable one from the album.

Hey Ya has Ali Hamza as the lead vocalist and is one of the most different songs Noori has done. The verses are really brilliant but my big problem with the song is the chorus and the name. It would have been infinitely better if they had chosen some meaningful words rather than just Hey Ya. These choruses have become a part of Noori’s live performances since their show, Live at the Rock Musicarium, but I wish they hadn’t used them in their studio album.

Pinjra is one of my favorites from the album and bears a striking resemblance to an earlier release called Taaron Say Agay. The guitar riff is very catchy and the chorus is loud and big, supported by a fusion of dholak with drums.

Everyone’s heard Kedaar form Coke Studio before, and while I preferred that one, this is a good rework. It also has Noori using sitar in their songs for the first time, which for me is the highlight of the whole song. Kami Paul had some big shoes to fill coming into this episode, but he ensures that we never miss Mr. Pinto.

While listening to the whole album, I was wondering how Aik tha badshah with its electronic dubsmash-eqsue solo is going to fit in. Noori has reworked the song and removed the electronic influences and it sounds much better – far more in line with the album’s vibe.

Sarfarosh is my favorite song of the album. It has a killer double bass, a superb guitar riff and despite it using the same old lyrics “yaara nahi chorna, waada nahi torna” I just love this song.

Mujhe Roko has always been lyrically my favorite Noori song, and we’ve seen countless versions of this song on the internet before. Yet this rework is much better than the older versions. Noori tends to forget the difference between a live recording and a studio one throughout the album but they seem to have crossed the line in this song. I don’t really want to hear fans chanting “Noori Noori Noori”, “Sing with me”, “Put your hands in the air”, “123” in between my songs.

The album ends with Noori’s take on the national anthem, and in this case, it sounds immense because of the fan chants, which complement it in a memorable way, as does the addition of Noori’s own lyrics.

I was probably one of the most excited fans ahead of the album’s launch. And I’m really glad that amidst the dying Pakistani music industry Noori has released a full studio album. It doesn’t disappoint, it’s just that the amount of new songs really leaves you wanting more.

Check out the album: