Lo-fi beats, nostalgic lyrics about an idyllic youth, smooth vocals that put you in a happy-sad mood? ADOY, a South-Korean self-dubbed ‘commercial indie’ band released their first EP about a year ago and have been doing nothing but produce good music. Both their debut album and their latest album centre around the theme of ‘Youth’, taking inspiration from their own youths spent in different careers and bands. Since the release of their first songs as a group, ‘Laika’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ in September 2016, they’ve already amassed 23,565 monthly listeners on Spotify and counting.
Their debut was quite unusual, with each member still being part of another music group: Zee from The Airport, Juhwan from Eastern Sidekick (who eventually disbanded), Jojo from Watersports and Dayoung from Trampauline. Since the release of ‘Laika’, they’ve labelled themselves as a ‘commercial indie’ group due to their sound resembling that of TV jingles from the past.
“Music transfers good feelings to all people,” said Bassist Dayoung to Levi’s Blog last year and I agree with her. Each individual member of ADOY brings something new to the table, probably because of how most of them were part of different bands other than ADOY, each with their own sound and styles. “I feel happiest when I feel like we’ve become one together on stage,” Juhwan remarked. This sentiment is embedded into every one of their songs, making the whole experience feel a lot more genuine despite their branding being based on the nostalgia of TV commercials. In my opinion, what makes ADOY such a great band is how each member playing their instrument shapes the music into something that cannot be confined by genre, leading to something completely new yet at the same time, comfortingly familiar.
‘Laika’ is a dreamy track, its melodies held together through electronic arrangements with an undertone of 80’s nostalgia but also the future which is present in pretty much all of their tracks to come. The forlorn and wistful voice of the vocalist, Juhwan are and the supporting vocals of Dayoung are what make this track my favourite out of all of their songs. ‘Laika’ is haunting and moody and surrounds your head with heavenly vocals against the sharp constant of the electric guitar and otherworldly synths. There’s something deeply addictive in the way that Juhwan’s vocals shape the entire song.
Proceeding the releases of ‘Laika’ and ‘Don’t Stop’, they released their EP, ‘Catnip’ in which both of the tracks were featured along with four other tracks, equally as mesmerizing and beautiful. The sound of the album seemed to be a mix of synthpop and citypop and in an interview, band member Zee revealed that to them, genre was set by other people not the band themselves and it really wasn’t that important to them which kind of adds to the carefree but melancholy mood the album seems to adopt. The first track, ‘Grace’ eases you into a dream-like state, preparing you for the rest of the album.
Following ‘Catnip’, they released ‘Love’, the focus, again being on youth and the bittersweet memories associated with it. ‘Love’, along with their previous album, is preoccupied with youth in a ‘refined and retrospective way’ which differentiates them from other bands who write about similar themes. In many ways, ‘Love’ is an extension of ‘Catnip’, maintaining the otherworldly yet nostalgic sound. The psychedelic guitar used makes you feel almost as if you’re flying inside, like in that moment you and the vocals are intertwined with each other until your emotions are inseparable from Juhwan’s. If he sounds heartbroken, you feel heartbroken. If he sounds at peace with the world and happy about how things are now, then so are you. The album adds onto the magic that ‘Laika’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ bought into the world, without a single care about sticking with just the one or a couple of genres.