Seoul; I Become A Shade – Out now (June 9th) via Grand Jury
I Become A Shade, the debut full-length by Montreal based band Seoul, is an interesting, listenable album, lifted up by its impeccable production. There is no doubt, I Become A Shade was a labor of love for the young trio making up Seoul. On listening to the album no sound passes by that isn’t obviously intentional. The album, slowly constructed over the course of three years, is a testament to the needs and demands of an artist striving to be respected. In a time when record labels are releasing their artist’s albums by surprise, without the artist even knowing it was going to be dropped, it is refreshing listening to an album that was clearly constructed meticulously, time-be-damned, so the artist could release a perfect picture of their holistic vision. This is exactly what Seoul has accomplished on I Become A Shade, for better and worse.
Generally, I Become A Shade sounds like an album for cool, rich kids to dance to or like music that would be played at a pool party where no one wants to get in the pool. Finding their influence in electronic indie and chillwave, mostly, Seoul’s sound is a hybrid of these genres that have dominated a good portion of what is listened to by the masses immersed in popular culture over the last many years. Yet, the sound generated on I Become A Shade is owned by Seoul. There isn’t a single moment on the album where it could be presumed Seoul are being anything other than themselves. Despite the fact, chillwave and the epic, electronic indie genre are perhaps becoming antiquated, Seoul in no way are emulating a dying genre, but they are obviously making music their passion drives them toward.
Two tracks on the album really stand out and display the potential Seoul have moving forward, “White Morning” and, album closer, “Galway”. These two tracks share very little in common with the rest of I Become A Shade and very little in common with each other, but they are shining examples of what a talented band with incredible editorial ears can accomplish. “White Morning” is driven forward by a groovy, sun-drenched guitar line, and everything else in the song accompanies the perfect, subtle guitar riff. Frontman, Nigel Ward’s vocals, as seems typical of what he is going for, slide through the song around the guitar melody in a laissez-faire, catchy monotone, and the electronics are subtly found in the background. Not only is “White Morning” the best song on I Become A Shade, but it is also the most immediately attention grabbing and most unique. In Contrast to “White Morning”, album closer, “Galway”, is a dark, ambient affair. Still maximized as far as production goes, the sounds of “Galway” fit together less perfectly, creating a pleasant disorientation. It is a song the listener can get lost in, and then over a minute into the abyss created by the nicely unstructured synth and percussion, when Ward’s vocals come in, it sucks the listener right back in, at attention.
I Become A Shade, if anything, proves Seoul are a band worth following into the future. The trio obviously have a gift when it comes to production, and the highlights of the album, “Galway” and “White Morning”, showcase that if Seoul were to apply to songwriting the same talent they display in their perfectionism, they could create an album that is really special in the future. For the time being, I Become A Shade stands as a debut that is slightly too familiar for all but a few songs, but it nonetheless displays a very high level of talent in promising, young musicians.
Review By: Taylor James
Band Photo Credit: Daniel Topete