I have always said that Oh Hyuk, the lead singer of Hyukoh, has one of my all-time favorite voices in music. Ever. I don’t always love the music he puts out, be it with his band or as a collaborator – sometimes it’s a little to jam band-y and some times it’s a little more art school than I favor, but man, that voice just speaks to every fiber of my being.
We’ve heard very little of Hyukoh aside from a couple of singles since 2018. Now, in western music, taking a slow year is pretty normal, taking a slow couple of years is actually fairly expected. But in Korean music, particularly now that Kpop is so pervasive on the global market, a year off is a long damn time. The group has faced accusations of plagiarism more than a couple of times over the years and despite successfully refuting them, I’m sure it takes a toll on the creative process. The group writes all of their own music and does so with painstaking attention to detail and the feelings evoked by every note. This kind of attack must feel especially personal.
Hyukoh released a new EP just shy of kicking off their world-wide tour this month. They’re hitting Asia, Europe, and the US – I know I’m eyeballing going, but I have an absurd number of shows already on the docket so I don’t think it’s going to happen this time around. This EP, through love, is a six-track affair with the songs being both distinct and similar enough that they almost bleed into one another. The title track Help is a Latin influenced, rhythmic song sounding musically upbeat but lyrically a bit more akin to what we expect from Hyukoh. Oh, and there’s jazz flute.
I don’t care for jazz flute.
So yes, while the EP is not exactly to my taste and not something I’ll be throwing on over and over, it’s obviously gorgeous and intricate and textured. And Oh Hyuk’s voice is just as perfect as it’s always been – if a little toned down this time around.