With their previous two releases, National Pigeon Unity proved themselves to be a duo who could harness raw energy and melodicism in equal parts. Hero, an album rooted in hardcore punk influences, presents unbridled drive and an even stronger grasp on structuring.
The opener, “Sevenless,” wears an extremely catchy hook on its sleeve – the title alludes to the song’s chanted number sequence that omits the number seven. Its spirited nature contrasts with the dreamier, more atmospheric “Supertask,” one of the tracks on Hero that appears to have been influenced by galactic themes. “Stargazer” combines elements of the previous two tracks, with a bouncing 2/4 beat and a bridge that focuses on its layered guitar harmonies.
“H.o.t. (Hero on TV)” and “Hook” lead the album onto a different path. The generally up-beat air of the first three tracks is replaced with swagger and menacing overtones. “H.o.t. (Hero on TV)” treads heavily and hits hard with low-pitched riffs; “Hook” struts and swings with machismo, leading to a uniquely villainous-sounding bridge.
The interlude, featuring serene female vocals singing to a lone guitar, is a brief moment of rest that ends with the arrival of the bold, formidable “Like a Light.” “Like a Light” jumps around different time signatures and motifs – it is rather unpredictable. It does, however, anchor itself around a powerful chant that serves as a chorus of sorts. “Just,” following after, is more straightforward and linear in its rhythmic drive.
“Molotov Cocktail,” the penultimate track, was released as one of the singles – and for good reason. Its impassioned, almost furious nature is immediately attention-grabbing. We then get to the epic, slower-paced ending track, “Voyager;” I would group it together with “Supertask” and “Stargazer” in terms of atmosphere, pace, and use of reverberation. “Voyager,” in line with its theme, is soaring and grandiose.
Hero is a further refinement of National Pigeon Unity’s sound. Previous songs, like “Sierra” and “Stay,” already showcased their ability to juxtapose the zest of punk against elements far-removed from the genre; in Hero, they have injected more accessibility in the form of poppier hooks and increasingly ambitious, varied composition. A welcomed development from the already-dazzling Seoul duo.