Last May, Akdong Musician brought us Spring, a mini album full of bright folk pop perfectly suited for the season. Now, just as the new year begins, they’re back with Winter, their second full-length album. It’s (presumably) the last before Chanhyuk’s two-year stint in the military, and has been heralded by an ambitious short film “musical” that does an excellent job encapsulating what makes this sibling duo such a treasure.
Unlike many of the album’s more colorful moments, Last Goodbye (오랜 날 오랜 밤) is one of the most straightforward, melodic title tracks AKMU has ever given us. It begins by riffing off a sample of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which is certainly an unusual touch for a k-pop song. I’m not sure it entirely works, but maybe that’s just because this particular piece of classical music has been overused in everything from commercials to internet memes. Luckily, Last Goodbye quickly becomes its own song, highlighted by a beautifully restrained vocal performance from the duo. Despite being completely different in tone, their voices compliment each other incredibly well, and the track is at its best when they’re singing in unison.
Like Bigbang‘s Last Dance from last month, Goodbye has an air of finality that drives the emotion throughout. The chorus swells with an added blast of symphonic heft that grows with each repetition, bringing a welcome sense of grandeur to an otherwise entirely acoustic arrangement. It verges on becoming anthemic the further it builds, but not in an overblown way. It’s cinematic, but more like a quirky little indie movie than a Hollywood blockbuster. If this is Akdong Musician’s version of an OST k-ballad, then we can safely say they’ve mastered yet another genre.