The biggest thing that makes Life and Time stand out from other rock groups is their high level of musicianship. They consist of Sunbin (the bassist of The Koxx), Jinsil from Loro’s, and drummer Im Sang Wook, all of whom are seasoned performers and songwriters. Particularly the drummer brings the band’s music to a new level; while sounding chill and relaxed, he brings a wild amount of rhythmic complexity and nuance into each track.
The group drew me in with their first mini-album, The Great Deep, simply by being themselves. Instead of trying to achieve something revolutionary or emulate a certain sound, they played music that was fun for them and did it well. The result was a short, sweet, preciously crafted summer rock album. So I was glad to get a bigger taste of their sound with their first full album, LAND.
This time around, the group ramped up their math-rock, blues rock, and rock’n’roll undertones from The Great Deep. Most of LAND’s songs feature polyrhythmic hooks, bluesy chord progressions, and Jinsil’s unkempt rock’n’roll talk-singing. This sums up most of the tracks on the album, such as “Rapids,” “My Loving City,” “Land,” “Shakin’ Trees,” and “Flower.”
On an immediate level, I dug the high-octane fun that Life and Time went for in this album. But after listening for a while, it got to the point when these pure rock tracks grew old. The songs are reminiscent of other classic rock groups or styles I’ve heard before. So although they’re well done, they’re not necessarily special to Life and Time. It would be great if there was more variety to the album so that it it wasn’t straight rock’n’roll, straight through. That being said, there are a handful of tracks like these that really work, such as “Flower” or “Rapids.”
The group’s colors show more in the few laid-back songs of the album such as “Light,” “Forest,” “Come,” and “Life.” The bass and guitar lines bounce blissfully, the percussion is easygoing but rhythmically insane, and Jinsil’s voice is sweet and quirky. Because the band sounds so relaxed, they make the listener feel immediately relaxed, even though there is a lot of technical work going on under the surface. This is the spark of Life and Time.
I’m only this picky with Life and Time because I think they are such fantastic musicians and because their first mini-album did so many things right. It’s hard for me to identify how I want Life and Time to develop their sound in future releases, because everything they’re doing in this album is great – but I feel like they could let their true colors shine even more. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t several blissful moments on this album.
I want to close by honoring the music video for “Forest.” It’s my favorite music video I’ve seen all year because it’s goofy, nonsensical, and confidently shitty – all in a way that is somehow criminally chic and brimming with imagination. I could watch it for days.