마음거리 is a huge step forward from the EP that Sesame and Cotton Candy put out several years ago. It offers a more varied palette than what they had already shown, and it’s overall a stronger release. However, I am still left slightly wondering who they are and what they want to say with their music. From their lovely and curious band name to their varied musical styles, 마음거리 pleasantly surprises but perplexes me.
The first song on an album is arguably the most important. It casts a lure to reel the listener in. You nibble a little. Then you’re hooked. That’s not the case on their new album, which breaks that rule pretty hard. It’s an intriguing move from a band who’s still working on finding their place.
The three-piece group open their album with a pleasant intro befitting the wintry February release date followed by a heavy, show-stopper of a ballad. It’s gorgeous, and emotional every time the singer croons “forever your heart,” but it’s an odd choice for an opening track. After repeated listens I’m really digging the song, though it’s definitely a grower.
I must say that I’m enjoying the odd sequencing though. There’s not a dull moment when there are all these rollicking guitar hooks, harmonies, and ear worm choruses. The third track, “잊어야 한다는 게” is where the album really gets moving and where the first playful guitar riff that I mentioned comes in. It breaks the mood set by the strange opener and sets the album at an exciting pace. It hits the very height of the band’s capabilities so far, showcasing their strongest skills. The band definitely knows how to write a guitar hook, because they open three of their songs with them – including the Radiohead-reminiscent riff of “마음을 베는 낫” – but it’s when they use their duel male and female vocalists to play off of each other that the music fits into place.
One of my biggest hang-ups though is that I don’t feel like the band knows completely yet what they want to do. Variety is a boon when it comes to keeping interest, and no band should ever feel locked-into one style or sound, but I also don’t think that Sesame and Cotton Candy are at their peak yet. They are still finding their footing and testing the waters of what they can do, like on the even more perplexing closing song “Fool Boy” that’s swamped with distortion and vocal effects.
They’re core mission though seems to be to have fun, as you can hear throughout the album but most prominently on songs like the ukulele-led “어쩌면” and the rap on the playful R&B track “딱좋아.” 마음거리 is a very big step forward that tries out new sounds but doesn’t try to be too serious. I think that their brightest days are still ahead of them, but this is a great release from a band that I’ll be watching very closely.