One thing I’ve always appreciated about Epik High is that, even when they’re exploring trends, they have a style unique to them. This blend of alternative and old school hip hop gives their music a familiar base to work from and guarantees a certain amount of continuity between albums. The last time we heard from the guys as a whole group was all the way back in 2014 when they released their fantastic Shoebox. New single Home Is Far Away (빈차) follows up on that album’s more melancholic moments, offering classic Epik High paired with a well-matched vocalist.
That guest collaborator is Oh Hyuk, of Hyukoh fame, and his voice fits in so well that he sounds like a long-lost fourth member of the group. I like that Home doesn’t solely utilize his talents for its hook, but incorporates his evocative tone more fully throughout the song. It’s a smart pairing, and goes a long way in drawing out the track’s mood. A wistful blend of piano and warm strings further enhances Home‘s somber appeal without overtaking the central performances.
These kind of songs tend to do very well for Epik High, especially during this time of the year. Still, I can’t help but wish the guys had delivered a single with a bit more bite. Born Hater was so much fun back in 2014, and their album track No Thanxxx seeks to replicate that this time around. Home Is Far Away has such a specific sentiment that it feels almost limiting. It’s not the kind of track that pushes the group forward. It doesn’t even feel like a long awaited comeback. It’s simply Epik High doing what they know works, and what they’re quite good at. That’s totally fine, but I would have loved if they had delivered an element of surprise fused to this comforting sense of familiarity.