‘Motorcycle’ feels like a breakthrough for Shajie. Everything seems to come together here in such a beautiful way, I was a little blown a way the first time I heard it. Shajie’s latest builds around a mechanical drum machine loop that cycles continually underneath a fuzzy guitar and robotic electronic blips and synths. But, as with much of Shajie’s material, it’s his voice that takes our immediate interest. Shajie’s voice has always had this disaffected, mumbling quality to it, like a teenager shuffling the dirt under his sneaker. Everything is told in a shrugging ‘who cares?’ And while that voice has often worked well – just listen to Battakhain or Bakwas – it also has the effect of pushing us away too. That alienation means that we can never get too close to what Shajie is feeling emotionally. Sometimes, all we can do is shrug back.

But on ‘Motocycle’, Shajie uses that disaffected voice brilliantly. There’s a tinge of excitement here: he repeatedly informs us that he’s going to fill that bike up with air and leave. ‘Aaj hai wo raat’, he says, ‘bari hai raat’. This is a big deal. Tonight’s the night. And with that drum machine looping, it feels like he might actually do it. He might get on that motorcycle and ride off into the darkness, start a new life somewhere else.

But with every repetition, the song shifts from ambitious to heartbreakingly tragic. The bike just needs some air in the tyres, Shajie informs us. Later: it just needs some petrol. After he’s filled it up, cleaned it up, ‘bas kuch kaam karna hai’ – then he’s leaving.

But it becomes clear that he never will. It’s an empty promise, a dream that will never be fulfilled. It’s a motorcycle he will never ride. The track builds into an explosion of ecstatic synths and celebratory guitars, but it seems more like a fantasy than anything real. It’s brilliantly emotional in a way that Shajie has never sounded before.

 

Watch the music video above, and you can listen to the song exclusively on Patari.