TAE:A fills a space in rock music missing from the Korean music scene. It’s high-energy, loud, and melodic rock that gets the audience dancing and jumping up and down. The three-piece released FIND MYSELF back in 2020 and a couple of singles in 2021, but now near the end of 2022 returns with Firecracker with the support of Choi Jaehyuk and No Hyun Min on drums. The addition of two different drummers does change the end result of the songs, but both are able to provide their skills to help raise the energy of the album as a whole.
“Old Guitar” has that YELLOW MONSTERS‘ feel with a long introduction before the setup verse for the rest of the song. Hyunjoon Cho and Han Jnyoung both provide vocals. Hyunjoon’s voice is a bit more direct and used to add some aggression. Jinyoung’s melodic vocals help balance Hyunjoon to create a parallel between the harder verses and the softer chorus. Instrumentals fill every available beat and there’s never a moment to rest.
If you like chunky and heavy guitar, “Hands” has you covered. The song is a repetitive rhythm of guitar riffs and thundering drums during the verse while the chorus lifts the song. I think Hyunjoon mainly covers the verses while Jinyoung handles the chorus. It adds a nice expected split. I think that Jaehyuk is the drummer on “Old Guitar” and “Hands” because it has that specific rock signature that his YELLOW MONSTERS era style contained.
“Generation” must be No Hyun Min because it’s like listening to 1TON. The drumming is pure punk rock with bass drum triplets that sprint across the beat. He is given time to rest during some verses, but the majority of the song is powering the tempo. The bridge is a total change with a lot of work to build up the energy from scratch before the last few verses. I still can’t imagine how drummers are able to sprint through songs like this and No Hyun Min gives TAE:A a different edge.
“Never Fall Down” goes into a hard rock groove with the guitars filling the verse. The drums are close to overpowering the melodic lines that TAE:A create but I think it’s the knowledge of the members that harness that energy. This is the song that the band would play during a concert that would shake the floor. Though TAE:A’s use of Hyunjoon and Jinyoung becomes expected at this point and I kind of wish they would switch roles.
This finally happens on “Miracle” and lets Jinyoung lead the melody. The song is a bit like a call and response with Hyunjoon following Jinyoung. I think that Hyunjoon can do more with his vocals and this would have been the song to prove it. And that finally happens in “Into The Wave.” Hyunjoon is doing more than just screaming and actually filling the verses. It’s a great showing of his abilities and “Into The Wave” has a great groove that grabs your attention.
From their first EP to Firecracker, it’s clear that the band has improved in their individual abilities. The songs sound tighter and less like an imitation of the former bands the members participated in. Firecracker would have been a better summer release with the number of high-energy tracks it includes. But you can’t fault this style that has an uplifting and aggressive sound.