Happiness can sometimes come at a price.
I want to start this review by saying something positive, something that doesn’t happen too often in my writing, but I have been doing exceptionally well over the past week or so. I’ve been pretty happy and that’s mainly down to my amazing partner whom I love very much. I wanted to start with that as, I’m not sure in which direction this review will take yet as, for the past couple of hours I have been feeling rather low, not depressed per se but definitely not happy, is there any reason for that? Not really, I just feel low, and that can happen to the best of us.
This album has been on my repeat since I heard it last night, and I really want to sit down and talk about it, because this thing is utterly gorgeous to listen to, but looking deeper you can see this was made by someone who is broken inside, someone who is suffering. The album is sung completely in Korean besides one or two songs, and a couple of lines on other songs and those lyrics that are sung in a language I don’t speak, are utterly devastating. While the album itself sounds incredibly cheerful with its noise pop, shoegaze exterior, deeper down there is a lot of hurt and suffering in this album, a lot of pain, a lot of turmoil. In ways it reminds me of “Loveless” with how that album sounds gorgeous from the outside but deeper down the lyrics are in fact incredibly depressing, this album takes that idea to another level.
This album feels like floating on a dream, a long car ride staring out the window to see the other cars driving past, but behind them you can see the fields, the giant wind turbines churning, creating power, the bright blue sky with the sun shining down on you, the light hitting the glass of the window, but you don’t feel ok…
While everything around you is serene, your head is far from it. Your head is swimming through a whirlpool of thoughts and emotion, your head is full to the brim with noise and sound none of which are discernible.
“I wish no one had seen my miserable self
I wish no one had seen my numerous failures
I wish my young and stupid days to disappear forever
My precious relationships, now they're just in the memories”
That’s what this album is, it’s a beautiful sunny day but everything is so wrong in your head that you can’t even begin to enjoy it, not just due to the lyrical content of the album but also the sound of the album itself, while I called it beautiful earlier that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. The sound of this album completely consumes you and I mean that in the best way possible, there isn’t a part of this record that doesn’t feel entrancing and beautiful because of the sound yet it also sounds trapping and even scary at points for the same reason.
Why aren’t you ok when everything else is?
Why aren’t you happy when everything else is?
What’s upsetting you when everything is ok?
To me those are the questions this album is begging, with its soundscape being as gorgeous as it is, and its lyrics being as dark as they are, they come together, along with the other things I mentioned to make an album that feels happy on the outside, until you dig in deeper, and even then, you don’t need to dig too deep as by the halfway point of the album I feel that that feeling is mostly realised, you realise what you’re listening to isn’t happy, and while it still sounds relatively upbeat, there’s this itching feeling that just won’t go away.
That turning point for me was track 6 “격변의 시대 (Age of Fluctuation)” this was where for me the album clicked fully, while before this the album still had its darker moments in tone, here was where it clicked into place. It was the point where I didn’t need the lyrics to hear the pain this album brought, and that’s something incredibly powerful in my opinion. An album where I don’t know what most of the words being said are can still touch me like this one does, it’s amazing. It’s an album that can touch me through just its sound and atmosphere, and that alone is something worth so much praise.