Hyukoh’s last two EPs introduced the band to a wide audience. With a lot of strong singles, 20 and 22 showcased the talent and potential of the four piece. 23 as their first full length goes far beyond the previous releases and is essentially a classic album. 23 is the mind and soul of these four who are presenting a different and varied sound and presence in music.
One of the biggest strengths of 23 is that it rarely repeats itself. Each song might follow the recognizable rock genre, but the unique melodies and arrangements that are specific to Hyukoh come out in full force. “Tokyo Inn” presents that early on. It’s not really a complex song, but the combination of the rhythms and melodies speaking with and against each other really make the song addictive. “Tomboy” is hyukoh’s version of a ballad with a big chorus and slow tempo, but actually serves to highlight each member even more.
One of the most surprising songs is “Wanli.” Instead of English or Korean, the vocals are in Chinese. It was already proven that vocals in English and Korean easily worked with Hyukoh’s style, but Chinese was a surprise. It does feel like the song was constructed to support the vocals more than any other song, but is one of the highlights. “Die alone” is also a strong song that makes its presence known. It’s my favorite song of the entire album.
It wouldn’t be difficult to write a full essay about 23. It’s unique and serves as an entry into Korean music. I don’t think there’s a song that is less than stellar. It’s hard not to wonder if Hyukoh wasn’t on Infinite Challenge if 23 would be acknowledged less. As it stands now, this album is something special.