Album Review: Oksangdalbit (Dalmoon) – Where
The indie pop scene is blessed with a number of talented female duos – Lucite Tokki, J Rabbit, Lalasweet, and Mukimukimanmansu are just a part of the overflowing riches. Oksangdalbit (or Rooftop Moonlight or Okdal or Dalmoon, take your pick) is probably the busiest of this bunch. You could attribute the duo’s popularity to their creative, often humorous subject matter and lyricism (look at that cover! Wilma and Wenda?), but it’d be more apt to point out how easy it is to identify with their music. Dalmoon’s stories have identifiable sensibilities and frank language; this is a band that knows what to say and how to say it.
That hasn’t changed in Where. Dalmoon still give voice to today’s twenty-somethings with piercing insight. A theme of warm gratitude strings together 괜찮습니다 (It’s Okay) and 유서 (Last Will), manifestations of a our need for companionship and empathy. Tickle and Anew are quintessential Dalmoon love songs, light on the flowery adjectives and instead full of activity and vivid imagery.
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But there is also a new sense of poetry in this sophomore album. In 공중 (Midair), Kim Yoon-ju and Park Se-jin harmonize in serenity: “Falling galaxies, silent lights // Pure snowflakes that cover my sins”. (This motif reappears in album-closing 숲 (Forest).) Help opts for minimalism, telling a larger story in a couple short stanzas.
Sometimes, the mundane becomes extraordinary; something that by no means should be meaningful – a long-forgotten relationship, an errant figment of imagination, an obscure piece of art – grabs hold of us for an enraptured moment, and we don’t know why. 하얀 (White) describes this, and it is the emotional peak of Where. A quiet night turns brooding as “without closing our eyes // we had so many thoughts”; in that moment, “the sky looked like it was about to cry” and “even warmth itself laid down on the floor”. In many ways it’s hard, if not impossible, to explain why these moments happen, and Dalmoon try to articulate the emotions without tackling the “why”. The result is not the most satisfying, but it does leave a deep impression.
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White is helped out by a dreamy piano pulse and ambient backdrop. This is an example of the nuanced arrangement found throughout Where. Light pop is still the band’s forte, and they show flawless execution in Anew and It’s Okay, in particular. However, more interesting are those tracks that dare to branch out.
Last Will starts out the same old way, all staccato and bouncy beat, and seemingly ill-befitting of the title. The musical transition, like the lyrical one, is devious. The piano bulks up a little as the duo softly harmonizes “goodbye”, and suddenly there is heavy cadence and a boom of string and brass to finish the track in adorably stirring fashion. Midair’s distant melody is reminiscent of Small o‘s recent EP, and Hero features an exquisite layering of sound detail and vocals upon modulated guitar.
It goes to show the amount of maturation that’s occurred for Dalmoon in just a couple short years. Their growth in Where is not unlike that of Lucite Tokki’s in Grow To Glow; both showcase increased scope in motifs and arrangement and further development of existing strengths. I think this album is actually better than that release, which is saying something. Where is pretty, witty, and smart as always, with newfound maturity to boot. Dalmoon are becoming more complete musicians, all the while pushing the envelope for the Hongdae-borne pop bands. Like I said, this scene is blessed with riches.
Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)
1. 딩동 (Ding Dong)
2. 새로와 (Anew)
3. 괜찮습니다 (It’s Okay)
5. Children Song
6. 유서 (Last Will)
7. 공중 (空中) (Midair)
8. 히어로 (Hero)
1o. 하얀 (White)
11. 숲 (Forest)
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the reviewer and not of hellokpop as a whole.
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