When I saw Thornapple live last year during my visit to Korea, one thing that I admired was their ability to balance emotion with fun. Each of them, especially lead vocalist Yoon Sunghyun, were remarkably expressive performers. However, they never dragged the music down with melodrama; they always maintained clarity, control, and focus while performing and offered plenty of quirky and upbeat flavors to accompany the drama.

thornapple abnormal climate

Their second full album, Abnormal Climate, is no exception to this. Although quite emotionally intense, it offers a lot of ear candy. Its long, dramatic melodies and stormy moods are paired with fun beats, polished arrangements, and quality hooks. Each melodic line is exciting and carefully crafted. Transitions are masterful, and sections and moods melt seamlessly into each other (see: “암실” and “살아있는 밤”).

The arrangements are intricate and succinct, and really help to bring out the melodies. The mixing is marvelously done, providing a sizzling chemistry between the vocals and the instruments. As a result of all of these things, Abnormal Climate moves with efficiency and eloquence. Each song on this album is of quality, but some stand out more than others. “암실” and “시퍼런 봄,” for example, are particularly glorious, full of rich and moody melodies and killer performances.

Other standouts include “물가의 라이온,” “낯선 열대,” and “살아있는 너의 밤.” Some of the more mellow tracks such as “남극,” “베란다,” or “이지랑이” are lovely, but fail to engage as much as the more gutsy tracks. But regardless, Yoon Sunghyun always does a fantastic job at bringing each song to life and holding the listener’s attention. He has fantastic emotional intuition, and phrases his melodies very deliberately and effectively.

This album arguably more straightforward than Thornapple’s first album. The music is a bit less grungy, a bit more orderly, and in some ways a bit more predictable. Although Abnormal Climate may not be perfect, each one of its songs offers juicy melodies and great performances. And to me, that’s enough to make a lovely album. It’s emotionally muscular, but never overbearing and always fun.

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A composer of music myself who has been inspired by Korean indie music for many years, specifically rock, electronic, and experimental music.