Love X Stereo is one of those groups I wish I’d found sooner. The first song I heard from them was “Zero One,” which popped up on my Discover Weekly playlist (thank you, Spotify) and was promptly put onto one of my personal playlists.

love x stereo 37c

Seiyeon recently wrote an article about their album 37X, which I highly recommend checking out. As opposed to 37X, which was a set of remixes, 37C features mostly new tracks with previously released singles such as “Zero One” or “Imagining You,” and an acoustic version of “Slipping Away.”

I’ll be honest, I think part of the reason I like Love X Stereo so much is because it always feels like I’m listening to a great 80s soundtrack that’s got all the clean, sharp edges of modern music.

For starters, “Annihilation” sounds like a strange spacecraft preparing to take flight into the vast expanses of the rest of the album. From there, we slowly expand into “Free Fall,” an eighties-inspired, perfectly angsty anthem.

Free fall
to the place where I belong
free fall
for the broken-hearted

This song sets the tone of the album as being both delightfully vintage finally but with the tell-tales of modern musical technology. Annie sings in her lower register for parts of the song, which further emphasizes its soaring quality in the chorus.

The following track, “Imagining You,” goes immediately for a very different mood. It begins with a sound reminiscent of wind chimes, fast-paced but light. Annie’s vibrato is on full display.

“Head on the Ground” begins simple, but soon it adds a keyboard with heavy reverb. Annie’s voice leads the song. This one is my personal favorite, with somewhat heavy lyrics reminiscent of the pop punk I love so dearly paired with an addictive beat.

The instrumental track, “Christmas Sunset,” lifts the mood immediately with a drum beat and the strumming of a guitar. We get some cool reverb and audio manipulation (a bit reminiscent of Aseul’s “Sandcastles”) as the song continues, calling back more subtly to that vintage tone from before. It’s certainly one to get your foot tapping.

Then, we shift gears again as “All Over Again” starts chaotic and kicks into a fast-paced, bass-heavy beat. The lyrics read like one side of a conversation – an open letter to a past love. I feel the pop punk influences again in the guitar, the fast-paced and upbeat tune paired with lyrics clinging to a love lost. Even the layering of Annie’s vocals calls me back to Motion City Soundtrack, complete with some of the electronic elements towards the end of the song.

“찰나 Ksana” is synthetic and hypnotic. Unlike any other track, Annie utilizes a certain spoken-word element. It adds an element of sharpness to her words, leading us steadily to the more melodic chorus time and again. “Zero One” was a song I heard around the time it was initially released as a single. The reverb on the minimal instrumentals and Annie’s voice gives it song a lonely atmosphere.

The same lyrics are repeated over for most of the song, contrasting between melancholy and hopeful; something about it feels cavernous. “불러줘 내 이름 Call my name” is our only song in Korean on the album, and it’s fast-paced and spacey, harkening back to the beginning of the album.

“Slipping Away (Acoustic Version)” is relaxing despite the morose lyrics. Annie’s voice is simultaneously soothing and haunting. The piano seems to highlight the sad lyrics. In a song like this, Annie’s voice almost reminds me of Ashmute’s Rang — both have incredible range and extremely clear tones. As a way to end the album, it’s a little bit of a downer but a very impressive show of Annie’s vocal abilities and Love X Stereo’s versatility as a whole.

You’re breaking me down
everything is changed
You’re breaking me down
this is not okay

37C is Love X Stereo’s exploration of their own unique sound, which also happens to sound at times like an exploration of space. The duo takes their hallmark elements into different genres of music, all with great success.

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