January 31, 2006

LNYE, Pt. 2: Purple Rain... Forest

A Side / Jaurim
Vlad / Jaurim
Ha Ha Ha Song / Jaurim
17171771 / Jaurim

Jaurim is the foremost deity of Korean indie pop. The four carefree bicyclers pictured above emerged in 1997 as Ugly Duckling, quickly changed their name to Jaurim (which means "Purple Rain Forest" in Korean), and awoke to fame after recording the soundtrack for a popular Korean television drama (The Man with a Flower). Over the following 9 years, they released approximately 10 albums—it's hard to keep track because lead singer Kim Yoon-ah kinda-sorta left the band in 2002. Since then, she's released a number of solo efforts, the remaining band members recorded an album as the Chococreamrolls, and they've all collaborated for live shows and their most recent LP, All You Need Is Love (2004).

The draw is definitely Yoon-ah; her voice is Jaurim's superpower. On tracks like the brief "A Side" (off of 1999's Bijungkyojakob), a perfect opener or closer for a mixtape, she twees her way lightly through a single minute of la la la's. On "Vlad" (from 2002's Vol. 4) she flexes her muscles a bit more, running alongside crunchy guitars, singing in Korean, and yelling English fragments like, "Time to die" and "You'll be mine." But it's on the recent "reunification" album All You Need Is Love, that Yoon-ah really demonstrates her range. On "Ha Ha Ha Song"—the album's sing-along standout—she moves adroitly back-and-forth between a Latin lounge-singer persona and a punkier guise, oftentimes within the spacing of a single phrase. And on "17171771" (which boasts a melody so familiar the song sounds like a cover), she poses as the delicate type despite knowing full well that she's a great deal more.

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