When Jaurim was on “I Am A Singer,” I was transfixed. Not only was the band fantastic to watch on stage, but it was the second time I was head over heels with a band solely based on live performance, the first being YB. Praise aside, there moments when Kim Yoon Ah would grate on my eardrums, which was the case when I heard the single, “Idol.”

Thankfully, the teaser single, “Icarus,” has better tuned vocals, showing the best in her voice, with her bandmates right beside her. But does Goodbye, grief. match those lofty goals or sink?

jaurim 자우림 : goodbye, grief

Taken in its entirety, Goodbye, grief. is someone in turmoil. From the first track, “Anna,” you get the sense that life isn’t going too well, highlighted in “Icarus”. In it, Jaurim dishes out its most straight-forward rock single of late (“Idol” was a caricature of the band, while “Carnival Amour” was, well, you listen to it), and they’re better for it.

With Yoon Ah on the keys and Kim Jin Man on bass, “Icarus” is also the biggest song on the record. The song is cavernous, with echoes at every turn, from the background vocals to Lee Sun Kyu’s guitar solo. The echoes give the feeling of the voices in your head arguing to and fro about life’s troubles (or at least, my head does. I might need a shrink).

What’s striking about “Icarus” is Yoon Ah. She wields her voice like an instrument. It sounds absurd, but most singers only use their voice as a means to convey lyrics, without adding nuance or uniqueness to their songs. Yoon Ah stretches her voice to create emphasis on her longer notes, specifically “게,” pulling her voice apart to create a hard and flat “e” sound. That pulling shows that small decisions can matter, like in a song or in life. That tonal shift may be overlooked, but when it causes “Icarus” to ring as it does, it leads to an incredible single for the band.

Several elements from “Icarus” appear sprinkled throughout the rest of “Goodbye, grief.” like deeper keyboards and bass, to the background vocals acting on their own accord. The former deserves attention since the band lacks notable bass sounds. That absence is corrected here, which leads to the stormy mod in “Tempest,” which explores the choppier moments of life, as well as the dense prog-rock of “전하고 싶은 말.”

The latter comes in the middle of two loud songs and creates the point where things go well or down the drain for our protagonist. Everything is toned down and the track coasts on a series of loops. The song also focuses Jaurim on its strongest points, as a rock band, adding little else. Jaurim on “전하고 싶은 말” is it’s the most Jaurim, without the gimmicks of current indie, and mainstream, music writ large.

On the other side of that concise sound is the addition of background vocals. In Greek plays, the chorus highlighted themes within the story for added enjoyment or clarity, and that interplay between chorus and foreground action appears routinely throughout “Goodbye, grief.”

In “Dear Mother,” the chorus (or choir, more like it) plays both background to Yoon Ah as well as playing on its own during the song’s body. Singing “dododo”s in the middle, what are we to make of the “oooh”s in the quieter moments? Should we feel bad for the protagonist’s relationship with his/her mother, or happy? Whatever the answer, “Dear Mother” offers complexity rarely seen in songs today.

There is small number of female-fronted rocks with Jaurim’s longevity.Sure we have female rock singers, but Kim Yoon Ah is one of the few female voices that consistently deliver on par with her band mates. With the dexterous and boisterous “Icarus” and “Dear Mother,” Yoon Ah wields her voice like a weapon, leading the guys to match her.

Goo Tae Hoon, Jin Man, and Sun Kyu bring the jam on “님아,” while collectively creating the gloom soundscape that is “전하고 싶은 말,” as well as the cluster fuck of noise that is “Tempest”. The record ends on a cliffhanger, whether life is ultimately better or worse off, but that’s a good thing. Sometimes the journey really is the best part.

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Contributed to McRoth’s Residence with a focus on Korean indie and hip-hop music.