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  • Writer's pictureRyan ANTIART

ALBUM REVIEW: Parannoul, To See the Next Part of the Dream

Grade: C+

Rating non-English albums can be challenging. Without fully understanding the message the artist is trying to get across, how do we know whether or not to give or take away credit? Well, recently I’ve been listening to this artist from South Korea called 파란노을 (Parannoul) who made a really quality shoegaze album entitled To See the Next Part of the Dream. Before delving into what I find so great about this project, I want to discuss what drags it down. The artist is brand new and the project is self-produced, so off the bat I knew it’d be a little amateurish. While I was blown away by the scope of this album as well as the guitar work and drum soloing, I must say it is the vocals that consistently throw me off. Even in the Bandcamp bio for this album he said “His singing skills are fucking awful”, I wouldn’t go that far, he just doesn’t impress me. Shoegaze is a genre where you either have to really go for it vocally or just look down at your shoes and mash effect pedals.

In my opinion, 파란노을 (Parannoul) choses neither. Slowdive’s “Sugar for the Pill” is a great example of a shoegaze track with crystal clear vocals that elevate everything. On the other end of the spectrum, we have something like “I Only Said” by My Bloody Valentine or “Dream House” by Sunbather where the individual lyrics cannot even be heard on the track. The tone of the vocals on this album are MONOTONE. Everything from chill verses to loud choral breaks are sung in the exact same tone of voice with no switching whatsoever, sticking out like a sore thumb on otherwise great tracks like “Excuse”. I would say the vocals plus the 9 to 10 minute tracks that have no business being that long make this album a C+.

Now with all that bitching out of the way, we have a really well done rock album. The opener “Beautiful World” starts the dream theme off strong, a snippet of what sounds like a train line starts the album, then these faded buzzing guitars and hushed vocals slide in. Like any great shoegaze song, the backing loops and loops and loops until the listener is in a trance, from there, the sudden hits of sound effects and drum fills give the track texture and depth. “Excuse” follows up the dreamy opener with a kick in the ass, like an alarm waking you up for school. Harsh guitars, cymbal crashing and blipping electronics take us on a journey, one that sounds very unique for this genre of music. It’s all very punchy and tightly knit, something that sounds more like a full band in a big studio than some self-released project in between study sessions. It feels like he has chemistry with himself in the second half, he plays off of his own work with such seamless skill, it’s truly impressive in my opinion.

Tracks like “Analog Sentimentalism” and the ten-minute long “White Ceiling” wisely implement faded sound effects to make the listener feel like they are half between dreams and reality. Again, the longer tracks don’t really fully take advantage of their size, but they are still good songs at the end of the day. At 7 minutes, “Youth Rebellion” is probably my favorite track. The backing just feels like a summer music festival in Seoul, a haze of dazzling lights, cold beer and speakers you can hear from the gates. Thank God Bandcamp provides some lyrical translation as well, just so I can affirm that this guy writes good lyrics too. My favorite lyrics on this song are “I want to be a rockstar/I want to be on stage/Loser jobless virgin jackass/Fucking dickhead/Antisocial hikikomori”, and when backed with such incredible drumming around the 5-minute mark, this song is hard not to like just on a surface level. It’s fun, it feels dreamy and sunny and even the lyrics back that up in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, it sounds like a more fun Alvvays song. This album just has an underdog charm to it, he’s beating himself up throughout songs like this but his dreams are big. And with the instrumental and production skills he has, I think one day “the character” he plays on the album’s aspirations of being a rockstar can be achieved.

The closer “I Can My Heart Touching You” does a great job at wrapping everything up. Again, it's dreamy and punchy at the same time, a quality that most new shoegaze music completely misses. It feels like the very intense part of the dream that we all try to remember just as we wake up, but can’t quite get it right. Longing, effect heavy guitar soloing melts everything around it while the drums keep all the ducks in a row. Overall, this album really does an impressive job at introducing a brand new artist to the world. It is a showcase of his talents and well as his self-awareness and humor, I truly hope that his next album is even better.

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