I first stumbled upon Liel somewhere on Spotify, with their 2019 single “The World You’ve Made.” It was a track that stuck in my head pretty quickly, and so from time to time, I checked back in with the band, hoping for a longer-form release that I could review. As of earlier this year, that opportunity finally came: Goodbye, I’m going home is their debut EP, but it feels far more polished than what may be expected of a first release.
Their Facebook lists them as a five-member band, although it seems that a few others were involved in the creation of this EP (if you’re interested, they’re all tagged on Liel’s Instagram post about the release). The band is named after the lead vocalist (and lyricist and composer), Lee Donghyun, who goes by Liel.
Despite this being the band’s first EP, everyone involved is an experienced musician; it’s had to track because they aren’t very active on social media, but it appears that Lee Donghyun busked, performed in busking competitions, and various members of, or contributors to, the band have been featured or released their own tracks over the years.
“It’s Okay” feels part lo-fi, and part classic coffeehouse indie. All the key instruments are there: guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, though they come in slowly. It starts off with a simple synth keyboard and Liel’s vocals, with the strings coming in gently before we’re treated to some lovely harmonies. When the drum kicks in, the song switches gears, taking a turn for grittier indie rock with filters to achieve the desired sound. Overall, it’s melodic and a bit melancholy, the mood suited to the title, and it eases listeners into Liel’s sound with its long runtime and changes of pace.
Track two, “Open Me,” was where I realized that Liel’s voice reminds me of 10cm. It may have been the brighter soundscape or just the register he sang in, but it really hit me in this one. However, Lee Donghyun’s voice has more grit than Kwon Jung-yeol, making him better suited to some of the more rock-based tracks that appear within the group’s discography. The instruments have a more acoustic sound, and the airy harmonies may have been achieved with the help of a female singer, but I can’t find definitive proof. The track feels like a breath of fresh air, although a sense of longing lingers throughout.
The title track, “I don’t want to move out,” is raw and a little more aggressive. Of all the tracks, it’s the most similar to the single that got me hooked with its heavier rock elements. Described in the MV description as “Liel’s diary,” the track is meant to represent the type of indie music that Liel grew up hearing and wants to continue creating. Even without the lyrics or the message in the description, I think there’s a passion behind the song that doesn’t shine through as much in the others, making it obvious to listeners why this is the title track.
The EP overall is supposed to be about going home, but not just home physically – home, in this case, is about not only the place but the time where Liel seemingly felt most comfortable and thinks of most warmly, especially where the indie music scene is concerned.
The titular song, “Goodbye I’m going home,” is piano-driven, soft, and sentimental. It’s a ballad closer, which is something I personally favor with EPs. Liel’s vocals are reverbed along with the piano, setting us in an open, lonely soundscape where his voice truly shines. It’s a simple but effective and beautiful track and truly does feel like a goodbye to the EP as a whole. This song is a perfect fit for any fall playlists you may be curating, and it’s certainly made its way onto mine. With Liel’s swelling voice echoed by what might be a cello, though I’m not sure, the song comes to a close – and with it, Liel’s first EP.
Overall, Goodbye, I’m going home is a strong start to what I hope will be a long career for the band. It’s a strong EP from start to finish, and despite being only four tracks long gives listeners a decent sampling of what the group is capable of and where their inspirations lie. If you’re a fan of what could be called classic indie, definitely give Liel’s discography a listen.