I’m not sure when Gwon.u appeared first for me. But going through the Korean Indie backlog of reviews, the name stuck out. So I listened to 2021’s Grab. According to the band’s website, Gwon.u is a four-piece rock and alternative band. But the four-piece first appeared with the 2023 EP and the album shows that most of the music was composed and recorded by 오권호.
Grab is a light and melodic EP. It’s got a light electronic pop sound weaved into its rock sound. “Want Your Love” is a simple track that’s focused on synth and samples. The vocals match the song’s energy and it acts like a small introduction window to the overall sound. There’s a definite focus on melodies and Gwon.u’s layering is perfect.
The main single, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” reminds me of early Glen Check. The mixture of synth-pop inside the pop rock base is easily digestible and you get pulled into the song really quickly. It’s light and sweet without any hard curves. 이재학‘s bass work adds a small funk rhythm addition and helps break up the consistent 4/4 percussion.
Gwon.u switches again on “Rainbow.” It’s got a mix of bossa nova-esque rhythms along with that older coffee shop indie pop that was popular with 10cm. It’s a nice mid-release pause but easy to move pass. “ur_f4ult” goes back to “I Can’t Make You Love Me” style.
One thing that sticks out with Gwon.u is the different percussion rhythms that he’s placing in all the songs. There’s the main percussion rhythm, but he also adds opposing rhythms to build out the track. “ur_f4ult” is the most interesting song on Grab because of the multiple stylistic changes he seems to make. It’s a dense song that’s focused on melody but also adds a lot of hooks.
The final song on Grab, “Please.” is a slower moody song. It’s kind of like a hybrid shoegaze and indie rock track. The verses feel extended with the instrumentals while his vocals move at a normal pace. It’s also got an R&B plus ballad tone. It’s familiar but unique.
The 2021 EP shows a lot of expertise in composition and arrangement. There are a lot of different tones and melodies happening all at once but Gwon.u is able to restrain an explosion of sound and keep focus throughout each track. If he’s able to compose like this solo, I’m very curious how it will translate with more members.