AKMU "SPRING" (2016)
An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
AKMU’s “PLAY” set the bar of excellence high. The duo took YG Entertainment down an unknown path of folk music and gained tremendously worthy attention. Were the siblings able to overcome the dreaded sophomore slump? Their May 4, 2016, EP “SPRING,” will tell us, right after the drop.
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Hey y’all, after the success of “PLAY,” Akdong Musician used the time in between to prepare for an ambitious follow-up entitled “SPRING.” The EP would be the first in a two-part series called Puberty. The album’s non-English title is “사춘기 상” (Sachun-gi Sang), which means “adolescent age,” so the youthful theme is the focus of the album. Before they released the EP, however, AKMU tapped into their acoustic folk roots with their single, “Time And Fallen Leaves.” If one were to assume that this was a precursor for what to anticipate with “SPRING,” then they’d be far off the mark.
Their sophomore album took on a greater R&B vibe for its arrangements. While Lee Chan-hyuk continued the standard of writing the album, arrangements were predominantly made by someone named Robin. I cannot find who this Robin is and it’s frustrating to me! The people behind the behind-the-scenes of K-pop simply don’t receive enough fan service in my book. Did Robin receive any of the flowers they deserve from this album? Who knows! No, seriously: who knows because I want to find this person?
Back to the music. While this is an enjoyable EP, it didn’t feel like an AKMU album. I fully acknowledge how premature this sounds from a person who had never listened to a full album of this duo until the previous episode of this show. Performing music that wasn’t fully of the folk genre when I’d set that as the expectation was jarring. Conversely, it makes sense: there is no benefit in forcing oneself to perform one genre. They never presented themselves as solely wanting to be an acoustic guitar, harmonizing duo. This was my assumption for the majority of their sound, and though this isn’t a full detour, “SPRING” allowed them to show more of their unique colors.
The EP has six tracks and is a little over 21 minutes long. Perhaps this isn’t an intentional habit, but they used the middle of the album once again to provide a song that seems as if it’s louder than the others. Maybe they are playing into a smooth ascension towards these robustly-produced tracks? It could simply be my ears doing weird things, I’m not really sure! What I am sure of is how sad I was that the album ended so soon. It feels complete but they came out of the gate with a full studio album for debut. Giving a listener just 21 minutes seems unfair! And maybe they felt the same way, too, as “SPRING” is the only EP in AKMU’s discography.
K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for this album is a 5. It has unexpected flair for new listeners and welcomed variety for invested fans. Continue to check out the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify, as it features tracks from today’s albums and past episode’s artists, and I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.
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