Whether you enjoy Kiha & The Faces’s unorthodox style or not, they deserve respect for mashing every popular music genre together — folk, funk, electronic, rock, and blues — and actually being able to pull it off. Their last album, Kiha & The Faces, was a gloriously exhausting fifty minutes of spastic funk sounds, fiery talk-singing, and polyrhythmic hooks. Now they’re back with Heart of Man, which definitely isn’t as much of a work out as their second album, in both a good and bad way.

kiha and the faces heart of man

The first half of the album is fun. Nothing remarkable, but fun. Even if the composition isn’t that interesting, the band’s sound is refreshing and the melodies are very pleasant. Chang KiHa’s talk-singing makes you feel like you’re being told a collection of quirky stories.

The album starts to pick up in the second half, beginning with “올 생각을 않네.”  Kiha & The Faces get less sentimental and begin to show off that quirky break-up sass they do so well (get a load of that attitude in the bass lines of “알 수 없는 사람,” “좋다 말았네,” and “기억 안 나”!). In this second half, the band sounds more rock’n’roll than usual, which goes well with their trademark not-giving-a-shit sentiment.

The first half of the penultimate, ten minute track “착한 건 나쁜 게 아니야” is fulfilling, but the second half feels like it tried to show us something cool but forgot to. However, the album closes with a glorious caffeine burst, “가상시간은 정해져 있다,” which goes back to the Kiha & The Faces we all love and know. It’s fiery, brief, and comes and goes in a hurry.

Despite its bright moments, this album falls short in the endurance or creative energy characteristic of Kiha & The Faces’ earlier albums. I wish it were a bit more of everything – a bit more sassy, a bit more experimental, and a bit bolder. It lacks that extra kick to make it truly stand out. But that doesn’t mean that the album isn’t still a fun, charming listen. Kiha & The Faces own up to their addicting trademark sound on this album and will captivate those to have yet to experience it – but probably won’t do anything new for longtime fans.

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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.