[REVIEW] Decadent — Ringing / Talus

So we’re starting of 2019 with an explosion, are we? On January 30, one of my favorite bands, Decadent, released their third EP (second single album), 링구 (Ringing) / 애추 (Talus). I won’t bore you with a drawn-out introduction. The album has so much to unpack as it is.

Though the EP starts with the band entering the studio, there is significance in opening an album so simply. It allows the listener a more intimate peek into the process of a band. How one door opens and behind it lies opportunities for something truly magnificent. Even if it’s not the greatest, it’s a start, a beginning, the door opening on well-crafted potential.

Thus the album begins in earnest with lead single “Ringing.” The song is a slow burn. That is, it enters calmly, building up to something. You’re not quite sure what until it hits the bridge and Dennis’s full-voiced tenor crackling over a deliberate blend of Hyun-suk’s heartbeat and the perfect three-part harmony of Chang’s lead guitar, Dennis’s rhythm, and Seol’s bass. While “Ringing” by and large has a mellow swing of rock-infused soul, that bridge is something magnificent in just how technically smart it is. Decadent is a smart band. The ability for the two vocals (Chang and Dennis) to blend so effortlessly is one thing. To parallel that with an intentionally crafted harmony between all three guitars…? It’s enough to make you angry just how genuinely good these dudes are when they come together.

Of course, that extends to their ability to use narrative and symmetry in their albums. If you’ll remember from our interview during Zandari, their self-titled LP was built around what made the narrative work best. The same could be said about this four-song EP. While it opens with them entering the workspace, “Ringing” blends into them performing out in the open (perhaps Hongdae’s playground, or maybe some form of shopping area). It’s that slight bit of parallelism that tips you off that there’s more to unpack here than just a couple songs meant to highlight some intelligent musicianship. “Tosse Cuori Starnuto” also clues you into the cheekiness in their self-named decadence. These guys truly are unbothered when it comes to revealing aspects of themselves so baldly. Many are wont to save that for social media. These lads are just fine letting you into their quirks and collective silliness in their music (amidst all that brilliance).

Then we come to the track that at the same time it pulled the EP together shattered all other notions of what Decadent is as a band. No one would ever accuse them of being gentle or subtle. However, there is a certain set of preconceived ideals that comes with a name. For better or worse, “Decadent” suggests there’s something mostly refined about their sound. While there’s a great deal of self-indulgence in what they do, it does come with a certain amount of polish. “Talus” blows that shit right out the water!

If you’ve never seen them perform live, you’d be forgiven the thought that they’re more closely reigned in based on their albums. “Talus” lets you know that Decadent is, before all else, a band. Inherent in that comes a certain level of wildness, a need to expel something hard and dirty from time to time.

First of all, Chang is a madman when he really gets going. You wouldn’t know it by the calmness in his demeanor. But damn if that boy doesn’t let loose when he really wants to. He gets those fingers working like he’s having a flashback, and I get a little overwhelmed by the down-home nostalgia. He’s got the heart of Steve Vai in him and when slain in the spirit does some damage on that ax!

Then, of course, The Voice™. (Yes I’ve coined the phrase for him; deal with it!) Dennis has the technique of a trained singer but all the soul of a man brought up on equal parts Icelandic prog rock and gospel. One would think a voice that tempered would be at odds with music that leans heavily on ’70s-inspired blues-rock. However, that angelic timbre has some bite to it. A two and a half octave range that could snap you in half. A flute of champagne with a shot of piss and vinegar.

What I truly want to know is how long they played in the studio. That’s the magic and frustration of a song that fades out as opposed to coming to a finite conclusion: the mystery of how long they battled with their instruments. Was it just a few more seconds longer than they really wanted to roll tape? Or did they blast for hours, each musician chasing something out of their systems until they collapsed on their instruments or to the studio floor? I’m forever intrigued to see how much jam is in this band.

You know what continues to fascinate and impress me about Decadent? They keep pushing themselves. With their debut album, you heard the first tentative steps of promise, the varying directions they could go, and then the looming grace with that now legendary first single. With the follow-up single album, you heard just how far they’re willing to go to separate themselves from everyone else. With last year’s self-titled LP, you heard just how powerful they really are and what each member can really do when pushed. Now with 2019’s first release, they add another dimension. When it gets right down to it, Decadent is a band’s band. They have the funk, the blues, and the elegance in some of the utterly monolithic musical heights they can reach if and when they dare. What 링구 (Ringing) / 애추 (Talus) did was prove that at the end of the day, this band can rock with the best of them. The band wears their name well: luxuriant, outlandish, indulgent… decadent. However, these boys can get downright gulley when they want to.

Please purchase the EP on iTunes.

  1. 어느 누구의 어떤 모습의 사랑에도 이와 같이 찬란한 때가 있으리라고 감히 생각합니다. 부디 이때를 오래도록 많은 사람이 있는 힘껏 누리길 바랍니다
  2. 링구 (Ringing)
  3. 기침과 재채기 사이/Tosse Cuori Starnuto (Between coughing and sneezing)
  4. 애추 (Talus)

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