If you’re a relative newcomer to K-Pop the genre in and of itself can be incredibly daunting to the unfamiliar, with names outside of the buzziest of them that have had the great impact worldwide (think superstars BTS and Blackpink) easily missed by Western audiences. Beyond those breakthrough names there are plenty of worthy (if not worthier!) groups and solo artists to get into, many of whom have been creating hits for a decade-plus. That said, speaking personally, some of these groups can be a tough sell so that when stumbling across a rare gem of a find – a group that manages to diverge from the cookie-cutter production line value of some of the fourth generation’s biggest names – they’re worth holding onto. Everyone meet LUCY, the four-member K-Pop band who debuted last May and ever since have been delivering terrific, anthemic numbers with four mini-releases to correspond with the seasons they’ve premiered in.
They just released their latest four-track album in June with each song managing to play on what we’ve come to expect from the group as well as implementing styles that showcase just how eager the band is to develop their sound and constantly grow. If social media is anything to go by, they’ve certainly checked that box—when I first began following them last year they hovered around the 10k follower mark on Twitter. When you check today, you’ll now see over 4 times as many . It’s tremendous growth for a band that isn’t filled with typical performers for the scene—they don’t dance, one of their singers plays the drums, and there’s even a violinist in the mix.
Made up of bassist and wunderkind producer Cho Wonsang, lead singer and guitarist Choi Sangyeop, drummer and vocalist Shin Gwangil, and violinist Shin Yechan, the group is exemplary of a band challenging its musicality.
Why You Should Be Listening
While there are other groups in the K-Pop industry who dabble closer to strictly traditional bands such as Day 6 (who are also wonderful), Lucy’s sound is difficult to replicate because of two key factors. The first and perhaps the most obvious is the violin which plays a prominent and integral part in the majority of their songs. It isn’t just a gimmick to allow them to stand out from the crowd, instead Shin Yechan’s strings provide the backbone to their musicality and allows the group the ability to transcend their already strong ensemble and songwriting. Because of the violin, the sound is sprinkled with touches of Japanese rock or, most pointedly, anime ED’s in the way it creates a cinematic, whimsical edge.
This is complemented to splendid effect by Choi Sangyeop. While he wasn’t the original main vocalist of the group, he is instrumental to the success of their sound. There are simply very few singers in K-Pop who sound like him with his piercing, emotive tenor that is utilized to its greatest abilities in belting choruses and gradually mounting bridges.
His vocals suit the atmospheric and ambient sound they’ve crafted as a group, with distinct albums that deliberately emulate the feeling a certain season gives you. With an effusive overall sound and tangible quality that puts the listener in the time and space, they were drawing from, crafting a larger-than-life, all-encompassing work.
Where to Start
Of the four mini-albums the band has released, there are strong picks from each that more than deliver on what the group is capable of. In their latest, the songs “One by One” and “Buddy” switch up their sound with greater reliance and vocal distortion and autotune in the former and a stadium-style anthem that errs closer to the work of pop giants Fun. then any of their contemporaries. Their first single, “Flowering” blossoms and instantly instills hints of spring into the notes, while a song such as “Stove,” perfect for long winter nights, builds up to a beautiful, vibrato heavy crescendo. The jaunty and smooth “Snooze” is a lighter approach to their typical grandiose compositions but allows the four to meld into a more cohesive sound.
However, it’s one of their very first songs, “Flare,” that to this day is synonymous with the ingenuity of the band, their songwriting, and the production done by Cho Wonsang. The violin molds itself to the song and few other numbers of theirs have better utilized the dual vocals, with drummer Shin Gwangil offering stability to Sangyeop’s vocal playfulness. There’s the ambiance of the fireworks going off in the background, but even without the captured background noise “Flare” would still manifest itself as a song meant for sparklers at sundown and balmy summer nights. It’s theatrical and unabashedly big in production and it, more than any of their other songs, fully demonstrates all that they’re capable of.