Brikkuni, Trabokk: a different take

I have already said my piece about the launch of the new Brikkuni album the day after the event. However, I also wanted to take Trabokk to a different readership that might not have been present for the launch itself. The following is a different (edited) take that was published on yesterday’s edition of the TV Guide.


Many of my generation – and the vast majority of the younger one – have lost touch with the Maltese language. Of course, if you really made me choose I’d be forced to admit that fluency in English is a whole lot more essential in today’s world. I do feel it is a shame however, that students nowadays don’t make much of an effort to master traditional Maltese.

Learning any language, even if it is a dying one, can only help further an affinity for linguistics. Unfortunately, even amongst the small community that still speaks Maltese, the beautiful turn of phrase of the traditional language is being lost. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone use words like mitjar for airport, tiżżufjetta for mocking, friex for blankets…. You get the drift.

Until, that is, I got acquainted with the music of folk band Brikkuni. I’ll be honest: before I became aware of this band I would have said that it was highly unlikely I’d ever enjoy any music in Maltese. This was when, in my mind, Maltese was only used for church hymns, cringe-inducing songs sung by spotty teenagers on telly and għana. This was also when I believed that għana was the province of sixty-year-old farmers. And while this style of folk singing is not my cup of tea at all, nowadays I can at least appreciate the wit that goes into its composition instead of dismissing it as ‘music for the old, village people’.

As I said, this was mainly thanks to Brikkuni’s first album, Kuntrabanda, replete with witty one-liners, puns (do you have a clue how difficult it is to pun in Maltese?) and words of which I’d forgotten the very existence. Lines like “fih sitta u ħamsa u tgħidx kemm hu baxx” and “jekk il-ħajja mazz karti tal-ażżard, jien nilgħab kollox fuq il-għażż”. I can give you a loose translation but the effect of the puns would be completely lost, so I ask non-Maltese speakers to bear with me just this once.

What has brought on this diatribe about Maltese linguistics, you will ask. You can chalk it up to my excitement at the launch of the second album of Brikkuni, Trabokk, last Saturday. So often, a band’s second offering turns out to be a bit of a disappointment when compared to the first. I was really hoping this wouldn’t happen with Brikkuni. And it didn’t. If anything, the second album is lyrically and musically more sophisticated than the first. Its debut to a packed auditorium in Valletta was received with unwavering enthusiasm. By the following day, quotes from the new material started cropping up on social media sites.

The new album contains some memorable lines.
Mar-raħal bdiet tiġri xniegħa li ntefħet bħal mal-ħobż jintefaħ mill-ħmira.” Very loosely translated from Ċikku ċ-Ċinkwina: a rumour started doing the rounds in the village, a rumour that grew in the same way that yeast helps bread rise.
Nixtieq riċiklaġġ t’oġġetti, mhux idejat.” Translated from Nixtieq: I wish for the recycling of material objects as opposed to the recycling of ideas.
Li kont bdot t’ajruplan, għomri nqatta’ ndakkar is-sħab.” Translated from L-Uffiċju, a cynical anthem to modern day living if there ever was one: if I were the pilot of a plane I’d spend my time pollinating the clouds.

You get the picture. Trabokk takes the most beautiful Maltese turn of phrase and makes it music.
Get your hands on the album (it is available online through and enjoy.



  1. jean zammit says:

    Mario Vella is by far the best lyrcist this country has ever seen and by a mile I must add. His lyrics in our native tongue actually gives me a mega inferioirty complex because i now know I have no grasp on our language whatssoever. …..and lets not forget that his command of the English language is something to behold as well. Just get hold of Lumiere’s album for proof of that. It would interesting to see how most of the Brikkuni diehards have taken to the new album. Let’s be honest it is devoid of any typical crowd pleasers and I found the album to be a grower myself. I found myself warming much more to the shorter numbers on the album and some of the longer track I feel are a little over-stretched. Nonetheless Trabokk is an album were the band are finding themselves a bit more.There is a lot more thought and depth in the songs

  2. Jean Paul says:

    If I were asked what do you love best, the music or the lyrics (poetry) of this album, I would feel between a rock and a hard place. Luckily enough though, I don’t need to answer that question to myself, and listening to this album over and over again I think we have the best of two worlds. More than locked between two undesirables as sometimes you’d be in the office, you’re having the cake and eating it. Outside the office too.

  3. Martin says:

    Għażż = “‘aziness” (għażżien, għażżenin)

    “Ace” = ass from Italian “asso”

  4. Martin says:

    oops – “laziness”