I didn’t know anything about Soumbalgwang and didn’t realize the band existed until I saw a music video for “Dance.” Soumbalgwang is a mix of styles: rock, punk, garage rock, and slight post-rock feelings. All together, Happiness, Flower gets in your face and never stops staring you in the eye.
“Fall” starts like punk rock right before mixing in some garage rock in the introduction and a couple of smooth verses before the shouting begins. This start does more than set expectations, it tells you that you’re going for a ride throughout the 10 songs. “Dance” serves as the main single and has the same energy as “Fall.” It’s almost a car crash with how much is happening between the guitar, bass, and drums. The mixture of vocal styles lulls you into false security. Sometimes spoken words, sometimes melodic, and sometimes in-your-face screams.
Soumbalgwang brings an energy that Korean music has been missing for a bit. It’s a kind of abandonment of form, even though Soumbalgwang is very precise in the arrangements. The music pushes forward through the drum playing and tempo and sounds like things might fall apart, but each verse drags you on this audio journey. “Ember” is a perfect example of that.
Even when Soumbalgwang slows down, like on “Romantic,” there’s still tension that seeps through the instrumentals. It’s barely holding back. Even on “Romantic,” it carries itself like a post-rock mixed with a love song but you sit in anticipation the entire time.
Happiness, Flower has a good variety of styles within Soumbalgwang’s chosen genres and none of the tracks have repetitive elements. Each track is unique and shows off a different side of the band. It’s hard to decide which particular song could accurately represent Soumbalgwang because they do so much on every track. You will have fun with the album, that’s for sure.
Fans who want explosive music will really like Happiness, Flower. Punk rock fans will find some of the tracks perfect with others acting like a break between the explosions of sound. The album captures the energy of a live show (though a live show is probably even more amazing) and presents itself as one of the best full lengths of 2021.