When our Editor-at-Large sent me the link to Traced, I was already intrigued by the movie poster-esque album cover. It seemed like something that would be right up my alley – and it proved to be! Within its five tracks, listeners are treated to a blend of classic, soft indie rock stylings paired with 80’s style synth. It has an overall polished sound and has at least one song to suit each season, so you’ll be listening to Purple Whale all year round.
We start off with “The Wings 날개,” which is fun and powerful; effortlessly enjoyable indie rock. The lead vocalist reminds me slightly of Woosung or Sammy from The Rose in tone, which is already a great sign in my books (some refer to this as “singing in cursive” and it’s a term that’s become popular in describing a certain style of singing usually present in the indie/singer-songwriter genre). Despite being over five minutes, the experience of the song seems to fly by, light and fast-paced.
Track number two, “Let the headlights light the sky,” introduces heavy synth to their more traditional indie band instrumentals and is sung largely in English. This song immediately captured my attention during my first listen through the EP. It’s got an inspirational vibe to it, though I wouldn’t say it’s a power ballad – although I think it has its moments of high energy. The synth helps to brighten the sounds of the other instruments and the vocals, since it’s got such a deep feel.
In “Only when I don’t hold your hand is hugging you 너의 손을 놓을 때는 널 안고 있을 때뿐이야,” Purple Whale continues on the electronic track, but they commit more fully to that sound. The synth is very 80’s reminiscent, which has been trendy lately, but still retains a freshness that keeps it from feeling dated. It’s slower, soft and sweet as the title would suggest. Yet again, it’s an effortlessly enjoyable song, though the nature of it is very different from the previous tracks on the EP.
“The Rainy Days 장마” brings back the traditional band and synth blend, and the tone of it falls somewhere between the previous two tracks. The synth has a more glittery sound, almost mimicking rainfall in a way and bringing it a little closer to city pop than the others, although it’s far from being purely that. At best it’s indie rock infused with city pop, which is a sort of genre that I’m finding I enjoy quite a lot! Also like its title, it invokes the calmness and freshness that the rainy season can bring – and at the end they even include some rain sounds.
Finally, “The First Snow 첫눈” returns to a more acoustic sound, but far more subdued and minimalist in its construction than “The Wings.” This song most resembles a ballad in their discography – the kind of song that brings on that soft, wondrous feeling of the season’s first snow. Although it’s a little early in the year for that in most places, this is a song I know will be popular on my winter rotation. Fans of HYUKOH’s gentler tracks might find this to be right up their alley!
Overall, Purple Whale’s first EP has me excited to hear what other sounds they may explore! It seems like they post a decent number of live clips on their Facebook, so be sure to check that out in your free time. For fans of soft indie rock or even 80’s-inspired synth, I’d say Traced is a must.