The Sky in Seoul is a four track independent EP that is ostensibly pleasant, but fails to break out of a worn mold. It’s part of a legion of similar records that utilize some traditional instrumentation in an attempt to add depth to standard pop formulas. It has the requisite “woo-oo’s” (“Don’t Worry Today”) and acoustic-driven ballad (“Make a Memory”), the same static chord progressions and major-key melodies that never seem to move beyond arm’s length.
It may be that the goal was never to make anything revolutionary, and The Sky in Seoul does a passable job of working as summery background music. “Like an Airplane” possesses a vaguely uplifting nature; it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill electro-pop track that at least bears an interesting synth tone. However, this sort of stylistic complacency doesn’t make for a particularly captivating listen, and it doesn’t help the case that the melody of each song is barely distinguishable from one another. There’s not much room for an identity crisis within the space of four tracks, but The Sky in Seoul isn’t entirely sure whether it wants to define itself as a pop-tinged rock record or a rock-tinged pop record. The title track pulls towards the former, “Like an Airplane” is inclined towards the latter. Then again, the lines are already quite blurred in the realms of The Sky in Seoul and this distinction is ultimately unimportant.
A past release from BLVN, “All I Want,” is symptomatic of similar issues but compensates with a perceptible sense of fun. It’s not clear that The Sky in Seoul is able to bring that same level of energy. When evaluating anything that falls into a broad category of pop, I consider it a success if the artist makes something that is straightforwardly enjoyable; there needn’t be intellectual caveats or advanced pedagogical applications. “Don’t Worry Today” is a decent attempt at sounding carefree, and the overall vocal performance of The Sky in Seoul is sufficiently strong to convey its sentiments even if the mixing feels a bit thin. “Make a Memory” in itself feels pretty enough, but within the context of the entire record it only serves to drag down the pacing.
There are plenty of boundary-pushing artists within the music scene, as well as those who make solid music within pre-existing frameworks. BLVN has the capacity to make a record that fits the latter. I think he would do well to build upon the sound that he established in “All I Want” and continue that sense of enthusiasm.