It’s been four years since 2019’s Oh, Two Animals. OHCHILL released “God Diver” in 2021. “God Diver” was a spotlight that year. During the pandemic, independent music stopped in place. This song did two things: showed that OHCHILL was evolving from their first full length which brought similar energy as their 2014 EP and confirmed that the duo wasn’t done.
The Burning City is OHCHILL, but it’s not OHCHILL. Like “After” states, “over there something good, over there something bad,” OHCHILL isn’t the same duo that it started as. And while I think another Oh, Two Animals full length would have been perfectly fine, I’m very happy that they’ve moved into a new space. The 10 tracks are all branches from the duo’s original core.
“The Grey Area” is the most “original” OHCHILL that you’ll get on the album. It’s got the alternative rock signature that OHCHILL has built throughout their tracks. Jun continues to fill verses with his vocals. A bigger change is that Snow participates with vocals a lot more. And that is great. I think Snow’s vocals add a counterpoint to Jun and are also able to harmonize easily.
And as you listen to each track, you also hear a structural freedom forming. There’s an ease into different compositions and arrangments. “Something’s Wrong” split of Jun in verses and Snow on the chorus is an example. Both members are taking the center and split duties.
Subtle changes continue on “My Naked Picture.” The verses have that OHCHILL sonic style with groove-focused beats, but instead of a big chorus breakdown, OHCHILL continues the tempo and moves through with the same focus. These are all small elements that have a bigger impact. If The Burning City is your first introduction, you’ve come at a great time. Older fans will probably hear the changes.
I’ll be honest too. I like the hard alternative rock songs a lot. They’re what got me into OHCHILL in the first place. But I think after “God Diver,” I was curious about what the duo could do on slower songs. “D-57” is my second favorite track on the album. It has a different energy and presence.
OHCHILL was originally a duo, but they’ve added bass lines to their song and Seokje Woo does a fantastic job. They follow up “D-57” with another slow track, “Yellow Friends” led by Snow, and a minimal electric guitar accompaniment.
I’m not going to say anything about “Where’s My Kitty,” you should listen to it. “Tiny Demons” is very much 57-era OHCHILL during the verses and a noticeable transition into this current OHCHILL form. The last two songs “쿠마
and “Dead Letter” should also be fresh listens.
Listening to OHCHILL again after a long break, I rediscovered why I liked them so much. But also hearing how they’re grown is inspiring. They could have copied and pasted another great second album, but this set of songs was unexpected. It came late in 2023, but The Burning City is easily in my top three albums of the year.