Why didn't I listen to this soundtrack sooner? Can't believe I'm so late to this party. Freshest sounding Indian music I've heard in quite a long while. 2009 seems to have been quite the awesome year for music in Hindi cinema, with Dev D leading the pack, followed closely by Delhi 6 and then Kaminey.
The reason I rank Dev D higher than the other two is because of its unconventionality. While Delhi 6 and Kaminey are both excellent albums in their own rights, they are still identifiable as bollywood soundtracks. They play it safe in a sense (though admittedly not very safe in the traditional sense), which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But you've got to hand it to the people who took a chance on something different and succeeded so beautifully.
Dev D was already on my list of films to watch, but after listening to the music, it's jumped up almost to the very top. I can tell that a lot, if not all, of this music is built around the film and is not extraneous to it. The two Dev Chanda themes/interludes are all delightful. Theme 1 is a breezy exotica piece with nice harmonies, while the other, Theme 2, has some lovely whistling and an atmosphere of innocence.
Emosanal Attyachaar and Yahi Meri Zindagi were the only songs I was really familiar with before today. I came across the latter on Raja Sen's blog a little while ago, and while it didn't really grab me on the first listen, it has definitely grown on me quite a lot since then and I can now agree with Mr. Sen that it is most mesmeric indeed. Dil Mein Jaagi has a similar old time (western) musical or broadway feel to it. I can see Julie Andrews singing and dancing to it.
The brass band version of Emosanal Attyachar is the highlight of the album. Funky both in the music and the lyrics, which are easier to understand for me thanks to the liberal spattering of English (gotta love the line "bol bol why did you ditch me, whore"). And that one of the best actors in recent times, the chameleon Nawazuddin Siddiqui, appears in the video only added to the charm of this song for me.
The rock version of Emosanal Attyachar is interesting also, but to a lesser extent. I particularly like the vocal harmonies in it, but the rock instrumentation is a bit bland and generic sounding. On a side note, I keep expecting the end of this song to transition into Soni De Nakre thanks to having watched this video one too many times (I love that sly/mischievous look on Shahid's face when the song switches).
Going to back to Dev D, Pardesi is another favourite of mine. Love how the sitar in the beginning gives way to a very phat beat and then comes back again later in the song. The very punjabi sounding vocals also fit well in this eclectic mix.
The four tracks sung by the composer Amit Trivedi himself are all quite yummy as well. Duniya is extremely funky with some fun sounding rap (should look up what they mean) and sweet breakbeats that is hard not to move to. Aankh Micholi starts off sounding like something off of the soundtrack of Brazil (brilliant film and soundtrack btw) with the xylophone bit until Amit starts singing and then turns into a club track with that xylophone ting ting coming and going. Saali Khushi is a laid back, lounge, mildly jazzy track that goes all out jazz with horns and everything before settling back into the original groove. Nayan Tarse is another lounge track fused with pysch rock in quite a surprising manner. My only complaint with it is that it needs to be longer.
Rouding out the album are some very traditional Indian songs (Dhol Yaara Dhol, Hikknaal, Mahi Mennu), one straight up pop rock song (Ek Hulchul Si) that is my least favourite track, one nice Indian western fusion song (Paayaliya) which wouldn't be out of place in a Tabla Beat Science album and one nearly a capella track (Ranjhana) which would probably benefit from the context in the film where it is used.
I've already listened to this soundtrack four times today and foresee many many more listenings in the future. I take my music very seriously, so this is no mean feat. Bravo, Amit Trivedi!