I have yet to hear a sadder voice than Jung Joon Hyuk, the vocalist of Korean rock group HLin.  He sings with a perpetual lump in his throat, as if he is always on the verge of breaking out into tears. But he isn’t a slave to his emotions; he has good voice control and understands the art of tension and release within musical lines.

hlin glint back light

HLin’s first full album, Glint Back Light, is emotional candy. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s full of raw emotions and bold performances that make for a cathartic listening experience. The composition isn’t anything special; it relies on Korean rock-ballad cliches that are a little too familiar. There are moments when I get tired of a song a minute in because I’ve heard a similar sound before and I can predict where it’s going. But generally, the emotion is so strong and Jung Joon Hyuk’s delivery so involved that I can can still appreciate the music.

There is a noticeable difference in quality between the album’s first and second half. The first half has many predictable Korean rock-ballads, but the second half is more varied and engaging. My favorites on the second half are “Cold Water,” “Gray,” “유리병,” and “백아인.” Each of these tracks have something interesting going on with texture. They juxtapose fragile, vulnerable sections with assertive and intense ones, and are simultaneously badass and sensitive.

Glint Back Light is not particularly memorable or original. But it digs deep emotionally, and will satisfy your hunger for emotional candy. Next time, I’d like to see HLin to be bolder with their writing. This album is worth a listen to hear Jung Joon Hyuk, who works wonders with his voice and will guarantee you a good cry if you need one.

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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.