Author: Samuel Weiss-Cowie
5 January 2017
Akdong Musician's 'Last Goodbye' is More Than Bittersweet
The delightful duo Akdong Musician is back with a new album, 'Winter," that is anything but cold. The release is full of the eclectic mix of music you would expect from the Lee siblings; from jazzy thrillers to acoustic ballads, the album runs the gambit, while always maintaining the indelible vocal flair and charming camaraderie of Chanhyuk and Suhyun. This album will likely be the group's final release before Chanhyuk's enlistment for military service, and therefore serves as a triumphant sendoff to this beloved pair. The title track in particular, "Last Goodbye," sums up the feelings around the release, a recognition of an end, but also a triumphant remembrance of the siblings' past endeavors. Here is my review of Akdong Musician's superlative farewell song, "Last Goodbye."
"Last Goodbye" is an acoustic track that is anything but heavy-handed. Always present beneath the gorgeous vocals are subtle, yet emotional guitar strums and steady drum beats that heighten the sentimental air of the track. The music successfully embodies the mournful, but hopeful mood of the song as a whole. Despite being fairly slow, the track possesses ample energy, lended both by the enthusiastic vocals, and the injection of more assertive instrumentation.
"Last Goodbye" deals with themes of breakups and departures, but in a tender manner that feels particularly apt given the fact that this album will be the final one from the group for some time. Perhaps because the words were written in part by Chanhyuk, the song speaks to genuine feelings of obligation, love, happiness, and hope. From start to finish, "Last Goodbye" is about the end of a relationship, with the singer admitting that a separation was inevitable and for the best--no matter how painful. The only hope left is that the two can remember each other fondly even though being apart. Although the literal story is of a romance, the real life relationship to the artist(s) is not difficult to infer, which undoubtedly adds to the song's power; often tracks lack that special connection to the artist that sets them apart as deeply meaningful creations.
Even before you listen to an Akdong Musicican track, you know it is going to be full of gorgeous harmonies, and "Last Goodbye" is no different. Both members have such unique voices, and you may expect them not to mesh well, however they synthesize perfectly. Obviously the solos are superb, as are the mesmerizing sections wear the interplay of their voices generates a captivating soundscape. Because the music itself is so light. the vocals truly shine in this track even more than in other Akdong Musician title songs, making this an extremely impressive product with regard to singing.
Although minimalist, the music video for "Last Goodbye" is still beautifully sweet, shifting between romances and shots of the brother-sister duo singing beside a campfire. Admittedly, the storytelling is fairly light (there is more to be found in the musical short film), not going far beyond depicting two romantic relationships, their cute quirks, and eventual ends, however scene is absolutely precious. The random acts of love are adorable, the bond between the siblings is heartwarming, and the changing wide shots and closeups provide both striking landscapes and distinct emotions. Ultimately, it is the final 15 seconds or so of the video that pull it all together. Those moments depict the pure and silly interactions between Chanhyuk and Suhyun, that make the duo so appealing; the sibling dynamic is a unique one, and Akdong Musician pulls it off better than anyone else in kpop.
As a side note, the musical short film (mentioned above) that accompanies the album is a treat to watch, and showcases the numerous tracks excellently. Make sure to give it a watch after the music video!
The Final Verdict
Separation is always difficult, but this release certainly makes parting a sweet sorrow. As always, Akdong Musician's music is beautifully sung and acted out tenderly. I know I will miss the shenanigans of this sister-brother pair, and hope that they will return in a couple years with more work to treasure. Who knows, maybe we will even get some Suhyun solo work in the mean time. Until then, all that is left is to wait and enjoy all the splendid songs the group has already gifted us with.
Music Video 8.5/10
You can find 'Winter' and everything else Akdong Musician at KpopMart!
Check out the album's musical short film too!