After a three year hiatus, Epik High is finally back with double title tracks, “Home Is Far Away” and “Love Story.” The first song features Oh Hyuk from Hyukoh and the second features IU. “Home Is Far Away” talks about chasing dreams but never quite obtaining them. The Korean title, “빈차,” literally translates to “empty car.” It fits the theme of unfulfillable dreams, expressing how literally missing a cab and having to walk home is like figuratively being unable to get on a fast-track towards one’s dreams. “Love Story,” on the other hand, deals with the lingering pain of heartbreak. Both are melancholic and focus on the emotion the different members and artists portray.

The MV for these two songs focuses more on “Home Is Far Away,” with the Epik High members wandering around Seoul late at night, morose and moody like the empty streets surrounding them. The cinematography alone puts many movies to shame and fits the yearning atmosphere surrounding the song. A shot that particularly stands out is that of Tablo crossing the street and then realizing he’s alone. The lead up to the shot is Tablo moving through a crowded street before panning him alone in that crosswalk. The set up, combined with the lighting and framing of the shot, really drives home that feeling of isolation.

Each member’s separate shots fit the overall vibe of the MV as well as their personal images. Mithra is seen in more underground areas like the subways stations, reflecting his more “street” image and style. DJ Kutuz is mostly seen riding in the back of a car. He’s usually presented as more aloof than Tablo and Mithra, making this a good fit for him. Oh Hyuk makes a few appearances as well, also wandering around Seoul like the rest of Epik High.

It’s a change of pace for most of Epik High’s more recent MVs. Their last MV, “Born Hater,” is a very different affair from “Home Is Far Away + Love Story.” “Born Hater” feels claustrophobic and even overwhelming at times; they packed so many people into one frame you’re never sure where to look. “Home Is Far Away + Love Story,” on the other hand, is sparse, empty, allowing for negative space to emphasise isolation. It makes sense that the MV would look and feel like the complete opposite to “Born Hater”: these two songs are a return to Epik High’s introspective work, more quiet rather than brash. The overall mood of the song is more somber and the appearance reflects this.

We only get a tiny snippet of IU singing the first few lines of “Love Story” before both the music and visuals fade. At the time of writing, there was no indication of if or when a separate MV for this song will be released, so it’s hard to make any judgements based on the ending snippet alone. The song itself sounds beautiful and fits quite well with “Home Is Far Away.” It would have been interesting to see how they choose to frame a MV for “Love Story” since they’ve decided to link it with “Home Is Far Away.”

Lyrically, “Home Is Far Away” reflects the utter hopelessness one feels when one doesn’t meet expectations. One mourns for being unable to obtain the dreams they once had, feeling that striving for excellence makes them isolated. The song takes issue with the obsession over monetary success, with Mithra rapping at one point, “The calculating world holds out its hand / I don’t want to hold it but I’m even more scared of being empty-handed.” The fear of not making anything of oneself is common, especially among young adults. It’s a well-known fact that the majority of college graduates today are underemployed at best and unemployed at worst. Simply getting by is no longer enough to be considered successful. The very end demonstrates this sentiment as Epik High takes turns rapping:

What I had to do
There was something other than making money
Where I had to go
There was some kind of dream for me too

This song is so haunting and once you look up the lyrics, it’s hard to not understand what Epik High is trying to convey. They combine my favorite things about rap and hip-hop: socially conscious lyrics with groovy beats. “Home Is Far Away” has both. Everything just fits so well in this song: the quiet piano playing a simple repeated melody, the snare drum beats, the strings that swell and fade out throughout the song; they all layer and mesh to create a wonderful song.

“Home Is Far Away” fulfills Epik High’s desire to create a song for the weary modern person to listen to during their commute. Both the song and visuals are a perfect marriage while also being a great song to listen to as the weather gets colder. 

(YouTubePop!Gasa, Chosun. Images via YG Entertainment)