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AKMU: ‘Winter’- ALBUM REVIEW

Sibling duo Akdong Musician (AKMU) have comeback with another album titled ‘Winter’! This 8 track album is a mixture of experimental songs interspersed with some songs that hark back to their earlier style in their much heralded ‘Play’ album. Interested? Read on to find out more in our extensive review of ‘Winter’!

Chanhyuk made it known last year that he wanted to enlist in the military soon, and hopes to use his time there as inspiration for future music. Thus, this album feels bittersweet, in that there will be no music from Chanhyuk and younger sister Suhyun for a while following this stint of promotions.

AKMU were the winners of the second season of K-pop Star and chose to sign with YG Entertainment. Their biggest strength lies in their harmonies, with Suhyun’s vocals being crystal clear and Chanhyuk himself showcasing talent in composing. AKMU’s live performances are also amazing, they hardly ever miss any notes! Their songs can range from quirky and playful, to ballads and more experimental songs which utilise wordplay or rhythms. This album chooses to be a mixture of these, and seems to be trying to reach a wider audience rather than core AKMU fans.

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Image source: © AKMU. YG Entertainment. 18.01.2017. YG AKMU artist gallery

AKMU spoils fans with a musical short film this time around. It comes with subtitles too! We wonder if this could spell more opportunities for them to act in future? They definitely manage to nail both the serious and comedic aspects! The scenario is that the duo develop a rift due to the spotlight always falling on Suhyun, which causes the breakup of the group. In it Chanhyuk and Suhyun eventually choose to shoot their own scenes for the MV but have to find a person to star with them! This short story musical video is a great idea, featuring songs from their new album during the unfolding of the story. You even get to see moments of little Chanhyuk and Suhyun from their childhood days, so cute! Make sure to watch right to the end for some funny out-takes as well.

‘Play Ugly’ is fun and upbeat and is one of the best tracks from ‘Winter’. We definitely recommend checking out this one! ‘Reality’ is a quirky and playful song which makes use of the rolling ‘r’ sound and involves some witty lyrics. It does sound like it has been plucked from a Disney movie however, which may divide some of the audience depending on which side of AKMU’s style you tend to favour.

‘CHOCOLADY’ is a smoother affair, with a jazz-bar feel, with lots of supporting electric guitar instrumentals. ‘You Know Me’ features hand drums and a reggae beat, which is a little more experimental. ‘Live’ is a very moving song, about capturing the feelings and memories at particular moments of life. The notion of remembering and not wanting to miss anything (particularly at the early stages of growing up), will be something that resonates with everyone. ‘Way Back Home’ is a track that has a lot of sections with Chanhyuk rapping and tries to capture that feeling of returning to a place of familiarity. ‘Will Last Forever’ is the last track, which is a slow ballad underpinned by piano, which really captures the feeling of Winter. There is a build of instruments in the latter stages but Suhyun’s voice still gets to shine in certain sections where these are stripped back.

The title song of the ‘Winter’ album has a music video which is called ‘Last Goodbye’. This is an acoustic mid-tempo ballad filled with beautiful harmonies. You might recognise excerpts from Pachelbel’s Canon in D. The MV cuts between the duo singing side-by-side near an outdoor fire, to scenes where each of them are spending time with other people. The MV makes more sense if you watch the longer musical video first (see above). It is a nice touch at the end where you see the siblings walking into the distance, and there is a moment of playful bickering before Chanhyuk grabs hold of a bag and case from his sister and she jumps up and down (arms aloft) in jubilation. This little scene sums up the best of their sibling relationship; that even though there may be arguments sometimes, they ultimately look out for one another.

We like that AKMU conform to their own style and rules! They contribute to their own music, doing things in their own way and always celebrate their unique points, something that the world of Kpop sometimes forgets. Take a listen to the ‘Winter’ album and see if you can find anything that you like!

Bonus: And lastly, they know how to have a laugh now and then! Check out this AKMU cover of BLACKPINK’s ‘Whistle’ at a recent concert (credit: cari cakes youtube channel). Keep a look out for Suhyun’s impression of Jennie-it’s on point!

Louisa Lee

Enthusiastic writer and foodie. Enjoys discovering new music, films and books, as well as travelling, trying various cuisines and learning about different cultures. My music player is never too far away - life just isn’t complete without music!

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