After HEO‘s Structure, I was always curious where the music would go next. The duo hinted it a bit with the two singles “Mono Sand Hill” and “Sleep Tight,” and that only led to more anticipation for the next release. HEO generally keep quiet about their music so when I was told by Junhyeok about the new album through an email, I got very excited. Actress is a huge step beyond what Structure started.
Structure was very atmospheric with a lot of standout singles. What Actress does differently is create a different world for you to enter. Boyeoung‘s vocal push the majority of the songs while Junhyeok does make appearances. The biggest difference that I hear between the two albums is the presentation of the songs is a bit brighter. There’s still heavy levels of synth on every song, a signature of the band’s style, but it sounds a little less overwhelming. “Pyre” and “Cave On The Shore” have the same emotional pull as songs like “Luna.” The difference is that they live in a higher sound.
Actress feels like a journey. These ten songs feel like you’re walking through a world that HEO has created. “Eikonal” stands out as another strong single next to the previous songs that have been released. The melody flows through a repeating verse and the drum sample gives the song a little anticipation. Junhyeok’s vocals sit slightly behind the instrumentals, but it flows along perfectly. The end of Actress brings some familiar elements of Structure forward with a slightly darker tone, with songs like “Running Through The Night,” connecting the two releases. Actress is a dense album. You can listen through it the first time and miss a lot of things.
HEO is one of my favorite bands. I still think Structure is one of the best albums available. Actress has gone beyond that and given listeners another whole reason to appreciate the music the duo make. It doesn’t matter if electronic, rock, or shoegaze isn’t your particular style of choice. You will find something that interests you on Actress.