kangkang, formerly kang, is a band that caught my attention with their shoegaze-adjacent 2019 EP I think, it’s weird pose. Although I didn’t get around to reviewing it last year, the time has finally come. The EP’s overall sound is hard to describe, drifting between more traditional indie rock, shoegaze, and even a bit of psychedelic rock. Dreamily filtered vocals and reverb appear to be hallmarks of kangkang’s work, however, and help to bring it all together.
The EP opens with “Abyss,” which starts off with a strange combination of semi-discordant synth and a mechanical whirring that grows louder. This, however, only lasts about 10 seconds before the more traditional indie rock sound kicks in, although it maintains some of the reverb that came with its odd introduction. The vocals especially are heavily filtered, but they manage to retain an unexpected rawness.
The chorus picks up the pace, before dropping us back into the more psychedelic, cyclical riff from the beginning. The final delivery of the chorus is the most powerful of all, with all the sound swelling and a new riff heralding the end of the track.
Track two, “D’bong,” immediately drops you in with no intro. It also pulls back the reins slightly, opting for a slower and more mellow sound. There’s a faint, ringing synth which becomes more audible as the song advances towards the minute mark. The song consists of the same set of lyrics sung twice over, although the second delivery is accompanied by more instrumental elements than the first. Eventually, the song fades out, with the same lyrics being sung over again.
“Plastic,” by contrast, builds itself up slowly. Similarly to the first track, it begins with an ambient sound, like a speaker which has been plugged in but has yet to play anything. You can hear as someone places their fingers on the strings of a guitar with a slight scratch almost, before the drums kick in, bringing the song to life.
This song is simpler than its predecessors, the beat staying relatively consistent throughout and Sangyoon’s vocals taking the spotlight. However, the synth elements that begin just before the English portion of the song disrupt this, and from that point forward that electronic sounds remains amorphous above the rest of the instruments. A guitar ushers the listener out gently into the second to last track.
“Daydreaming” is a track which sounds purposefully acoustic, almost like a live and unplugged set, not unlike the opening of “Plastic.” It’s also the shortest song on the EP, running just over two minutes long. It’s brief, but it’s lyrics are hopeful and, as the title would suggest, hint at daydreaming about the future. Sangyoon’s ad libs follow the end of the lyrics, accompanied now by the sound of gently crashing waves as he flexes his range. The applied reverb adds to the overall dreamy atmosphere of the song, and eventually all other sounds give way to the waves.
“We might be humble
Don’t stop, we’ll play at stadium
That taste is sweet, don’t lose your smile.”
The closer, “Way Out,” is the only track with fully Korean lyrics, and the one with a music video. It’s looping opening riff is simple and yet an earworm, immediately drawing the listener in. The lyrics are minimal and a bit melancholy, with the instrumentation truly shining in this track.
kangkang’s EP is cohesive, and yet I find their sound hard to adequately describe as they borrow elements from a handful of genres, blending them into their own sound. From shoegaze to psychedelic indie rock, the band seems to have a firm grasp on the sounds they like and how to use them to their advantage, with their limited discography embodying that. If you’re interested in chill indie rock, kangkang may have songs that belong on your playlist.