Review

Quick Reviews: Giriboy’s “100 Years College Course”, Goonam’s “Moraenae Fantasy”, And Red Velvet’s “The ReVe Festival Day 1”

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Giriboy – 100년제전문대학 (100 Years College Course)

Release: June 10, 2019
Label: Just Music
Distributor: Kakao M
Genre: Hip-hop, pop
Score:

There is a ton of diversity in 100 Years College Course, and it says a lot about Giriboy that all of its sounds and stories seem so seamlessly his. The prolific producer once again chose to step back from production for this album, and instead let collaborators shape it with their signatures. From Fisherman’s gentle future R&B (“Rain Drop”) to Han Yo-han’s emotionally charged pop-rock (“The End”), these substantially varied beats come together once Giriboy’s inventive, expressive writing style and carefree delivery give them direction.

The introspective lyrics resemble his earlier work, staying grounded in everyday life. Portions of “Towkio” and “The Arts” demonstrate that imaginative brilliance which sets Giriboy apart from many others working in this pop-rap style, but there’s also a serving of the stream-of-consciousness swagger that he’s equally good at – check “I’m Sick”. My favorite might actually be “Why Are We So Tired”, a bittersweet easy-listener that also offers some interesting thoughts about social comparison (“Get scolded by my boss / but I’m happy thanks to my unemployed neighborhood friends”; “You’ve never been left behind, yet will you still blame life?”). The song is funny yet scathing, and the collaboration with super rookie Jclef brings out the best in both artists. It’s a perfect example of what 100 Years College Course does well.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

  1. 도쿄 (Towkio) (Feat. Youra)
    Written by Giriboy and Youra; composed by Giriboy, Youra, Minit; arranged by Minit and Chilly
  2. 아퍼 (I’m Sick) (Feat. Kid Milli, Lil Tachi, Kim Seung-min, No:el, C Jamm)
    Written by Giriboy, Kid Milli, Lil Tachi, Kim Seung-min, No:el, C Jamm; composed by Giriboy and Code Kunst; arranged by Code Kunst
  3. 레인드랍 (Rain Drop)
    Written by Giriboy; composed by Giriboy and Fisherman; arranged by Fisherman
  4. 심한말 (Bitter Words)
    Written by Giriboy; composed by Giriboy and Hoiwave; arranged by Hoiwave
  5. 우린 왜 힘들까 (Why Are We So Tired) (Feat. Jclef)
    Written by Giriboy and Jclef; composed by Giriboy, Jclef, Cosmic Boy; arranged by Cosmic Boy
  6. 예술 (The Arts)
    Written by Giriboy; composed by Giriboy, Hoiwave, Cosmic Boy; arranged by Hoiwave and Cosmic Boy
  7. 결말 (The End)
    Written by Giriboy; composed by Giriboy and Han Yo-han; arranged by Han Yo-han
  8. 교통정리 (Traffic Control) (Feat. Heize)
    Written by Giriboy ahd Heize; composed by Giriboy, Heize, Johnny; arranged by Johnny
  9. 1억/400 (100 Million/400) (CD Only)
    Written by Giriboy; composed by Giriboy and Johnny; arranged by Johnny

Goonamguayeoridingstellar [Goonam] – 모래내판타지 (Moraenae Fantasy)

Release: June 12, 2019
Label: Asia Records
Distributor: Genie Music
Genre: Rock
Score:

Moraenae Fantasy is surprisingly austere, especially as a follow-up to the rocking and swinging Sun Power (2015). The retooled Goonam’s fourth album is filled with slow, mellow, earthy tunes rather than the genre-bending and danceable grooves of old. There’s some loose slack as a result – lengthy repetitions and interludes, lots of humming and other wordless vocalizations, extensions of simple riffs and melodies. If you’re looking for dazzle and intricacy, whether Goonam’s or some other brand, you’re not likely to find it here.

Instead, the band offers comfort and warmth. There’s a familiar assurance in those simple riffs, and in Cho Woong’s voice, they have a way of putting the song into a hazy trance. “Mulbul” wouldn’t be out of place in a Parasol album, with its reggae beat and condensed lyrics inviting the replay button; “Nothing Compares to You” veers into blues rock with a dash of Kim Oki’s sax (and a title scheme that reminds me of Kim’s albums). That’s not to say the soundset is monotonous: effects and Kim Na-eon’s keyboard work introduce shoegaze and psychedelia alike in the later tracks, including the gradually layering, strikingly beautiful “Farewell” and the cynically looping “Redevelopment”. But the album’s heart is in those laid-back doldrums up front.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

(All tracks written, composed, and arranged by Cho Woong.)

  1. 물불 (Mulbul)
  2. 망한나라 (A Failed Land)
  3. 우리는 끝없이 흐른다 (We Flow On and On)
  4. 나띵 컴페어 투유 (Nothing Compares to You)
  5. 지워진 자국 (Something That Was)
  6. 무지개 (Farewell)
  7. 오 싱가포르 (Oh Singapore)
  8. 여름밤 (Summer Night)
  9. 재개발 (Redevelopment)

Red Velvet – The ReVe Festival Day 1

Release: June 19, 2019
Label: SM Entertainment
Distributor: Dreamus
Genre: Dance, electronic
Score:

The formula of “Zimzalabim” isn’t unfamiliar: a wild beat driven by sharp attacking bass, a disjointed structure, a chanting and nigh-ritualistic chorus, a deconstruction of lyrics. It was F(x)’s bread and butter before, and though Red Velvet inherited shades of their style, it’s never been quite this front-and-center. I think this idea still has legs and “Zimzalabim” gets a lot of it right, like the rousing buildup in the verses and the rawness of the emptied, clanging chorus beat. The chorus melody doesn’t have to be elaborate in this system (that would almost be counterproductive), but it does sound too disjointed, with the rest of the song not really playing off its motif or mood. It’s still got enough strong traits to be a nice listen – it’s just not on the same level as, say, “Dumb Dumb” or “Red Flavor” which captured both quirk and coherence.

The side tracks of a Red Velvet album are almost more exciting than the title track. The two Moonshine tracks in “Sunny Side Up!” and “Milkshake” do not disappoint: the former boasts the group’s pleasant harmony on a punchy funk-R&B canvas and the latter grooves along to a booming beat and attitudinal vocal lines. The bold melodies and arrangements continue throughout the rest of the album, even in the jazzier “LP”. Day 1 is an excellent summer collection, and I’m intrigued to see how it can be rolled into a cohesive trilogy.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

  1. 짐살라빔 (Zimzalabim)
    Written by Lee Seu-ran; composed by Olof Lindskog, Daniel Caesar, Ludwig Lindell, Hayley Aitken; arranged by Ollipop and Caesar & Loui
  2. Sunny Side Up!
    Written by Jeon Gandhi; composed by Moonshine, Ellen Berg, Cazzi Opeia; arranged by Moonshine
  3. Milkshake
    Written by Kim Bo-eun (Jam Factory); composed by Moonshine, Cazzi Opeia, Boots; arranged by Moonshine
  4. 친구가 아냐 (Bing Bing)
    Written by Kim Soo-jin (Jam Factory); composed and arranged by Will Simms, Ylva Dimberg, Neil Athale
  5. 안녕, 여름 (Parade)
    Written by Seo Ji-eum; composed by Fredrik Haggstam, Johan Gustafson, Sebastian Lundberg, Ylva Dimberg; arranged by Trinity Music
  6. LP
    Written by Seo Ji-eum; composed by Ryan Jhun, Hanif “Hitmanic” Sabzevari, Dennis “DeKo” Kordnejad, Pontus PJ Ljung, Anna Isbäck; arranged by  Ryan Jhun, Hanif “Hitmanic” Sabzevari, Dennis “DeKo” Kordnejad, Pontus PJ Ljung

Album cover images from Bugs Music (1) (2) (3). Lyric translations by author.

Related writing: Red Velvet – Ice Cream Cake (2015 In Review); Red Velvet – Red Flavor (2017 In Review)