Now, be honest. Have you spent the last seven years in anticipation of Korea’s new album? I confess that I hadn’t, contrary to the claim that seven years of waiting is over. In fact I didn’t know about Korea, who not so self-evidently are from Sweden, but I can see they have made waves with their fusion of melodic progressive alternative pop rock. “Abiogenesis” is their third album.
I guess I’ve become so battle-hardened that there has to be something extreme, avant-garde or downright oddball in my music. “Abiogenesis” is none of this. The lyrics are gloomy and reflect things like emptiness, guilt and betrayal. Actually, I guess “Do You Want My Lawnmower” isn’t exactly normal as a song title or lyric. To the great credit of the band, this collection of songs is hard to categorise by genre but above all they’re strong and catchy. Essentially they’re commercial, pop, a bit indie and nothing heavier than soft progressive rock, but so what? Every song captured me in a different way. “New Horizon” captures the commercial catchiness more than most but like an extensive menu, the ingredients and flavours vary. A common thread is the keyboards and the synthesiser, which drives atmosphere through most tracks including the light gothic “Stand Down” and the emo-pop inspired “Thought Pattern”, which sounded like something my daughter used to listen to. These songs range from being reflective to emotive. A great asset in the emotive department is the singer who has a vulnerable yet pure voice. But whilst sadness comes occasionally in touching songs like “Orbiting the Void”, the driving force remains and the songs remain fluid and fresh. Such freshness pours out of the bouncy “Terminal Velocity”, but as elsewhere Korea add a dimension with a great electronic sample and spoken section. This is a great track but then there are so many others where an overtly straightforward commercial song is made into something special. Vocal and sound effects are used to enhance “Fanatic”, which reminded me at one point of Porcupine Tree in its use of shadowy sound. After the heavier vibe of “Fanatic”, Korea deliver another inventive pop rock song in “Exodus”. The drum is like a heartbeat. This song exudes the fresh and breezy element, which is such a positive feature of this album.
It’s evident that Korea are great are what they do, which is to create fluid, catchy, inventive and well-constructed songs. The songs may have gloomy content but it’s all interesting. Above all “Abiogenesis” is a delight to listen to. It brightened up my day. The seven years of waiting for some was well worth it, I suggest.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)