Singer-songwriter Roy Kim is a man of Spring and Autumn – one cannot remember his songs without feeling either the pleasantness of blossoming flowers or the pensiveness of falling leaves. His former tracks like “Spring, Spring, Spring” and “Love, Love, Love” whisk listeners away with their cheerful lyrics and bright melodies. On the other hand, we get songs such as “The Great Dipper” and “When Autumn Comes” that are laden with melancholy.

We are used to the rawness of Roy Kim’s works, oftentimes characterised in his music itself – a guitar and lyrics that enamour. He has never presented himself as fanciful both aesthetically and musically. With his latest album, Roy Kim walks away from the simplicity we  are familiar with.

Blooming Season finds its way with a mixture of emotional tracks and a tinge of cheekiness. The album aesthetics itself certainly aims for a level of complexity we are not familiar with. However, Roy Kim works it like a charm.

The sub title track, “Egoist,” starts off with a simple guitar melody. Within seconds, this gives way to electronic beats that becomes recognisable in the verses. The chorus, however, settles on the comforting folk pop style instead of spiralling into a full out EDM heavy track. Even within such a music composition, it is obvious to see the cheekiness that is leaking through.

The MV allows this playfulness to take the spotlight in its peculiar characters portrayed by Roy Kim and the female lead. The song speaks of the selfishness of being in love – whether it be wanting to protect oneself from getting burned by passion, or being afraid of losing a friendship by wanting to become lovers. The element of childishness in such relationships spotlights how love becomes a game of push and pull.

In turn, this is brilliantly executed in the MV with the almost unrealistic and fanciful clothing, as well as through the ridiculously immature yet innocent behaviour, and emotions expressed onscreen. Happiness and sadness, love and companionship are so easily and simply shown. It is as though we are watching a scene in a children’s storybook. There are no complex mind games or internal struggles, and love is simply the willingness to be accepted by another.

On the other hand, the title track “Suddenly” brings with it the poignancy of remembering a past love. The beauty of the song lies in its calm acceptance of such a melancholy, as opposed to the ugly crying over heartbreak. The lyrics are conveyed by Roy Kim’s soothing voice, reassuring in the comforting melody.

Coupled with the whimsicality of the MV itself, the tune becomes a portrait of a man that is learning to walk forward. The MV is a mosaic of the daily life of a quirky individual, with Roy Kim donning vintage chic dress shirts and suits as he goes about the house. His dressing certainly seems incoherent with the too-ordinary house and streets, yet this is not made stark.

Instead, a poeticism is added as he eventually leaves the house and walks down the path between the woods. These things that do not seem to fit together – remnants of the past embodied by the wooden and soft colours of the house, against the splash of bright colours that Roy Kim himself is dressed in – end up in separation. The message of moving on comes not as a blow but as a gentle nudge forward.

The story of love and heartbreak becomes far less devastating through Roy Kim’s music. Rather, it is transformed into a beautiful memory that is ever a part of our lives as we trudge on:

Let us be happy, even we don’t see each other no more
Let us just smile, when we think about us in our life
Let life go on, like we had the best dream
And let us talk when we meet again

The charm of Roy Kim’s music lies exactly in his ability to make listeners feel understood while conveying each sentence of praise, regret or melancholy in a gentle and comforting manner.

“It’s Because You’re Pretty” and “Have You Imagined” return to the softer and cleaner tracks characteristic of Roy Kim’s works. “It’s Because You’re Pretty” is delivered to listeners through a simple guitar strumming. Rather than shouting out one’s admiration and compliments to the world, Roy Kim converses with each listener in this intimate and quiet melody.

Similarly, “Have You Imagined” brings with it an atmosphere of serenity, especially with the strings and piano working together to form the melody. Deviating from the country and folk styles, we get a deeply emotional ballad. Reminiscent of songs like “Nothing Lasts Forever” in his Home album, Roy Kim once again offers a pensive and stirring track to mend the soul.

“But You” is also an eye-catching song that injects an element of cheeriness into the album. The melody is slightly more upbeat than the others, with a rhythm one could sway to. It is a cheerful song that celebrates the spirit of Spring – inviting like the scenery of blooming flowers, it is a song that inspires hope and spreads joy.

The album ends with Roy Kim’s solo version of “Heaven,” a track from the popular tvN drama Goblin. Originally sung as a duet with Kim EZ, Roy Kim pulls off this solo version beautifully. Always managing to find his way with acoustic tracks, Roy Kim fills the gap of the female voice with his own.

As though having walked out of a Wes Anderson movie – bold, rich hues intertwining with pastel ones, and a vintage wardrobe against a modern background – Roy Kim brings the surreal into our reality with Blooming Season. Refusing to amplify emotions or spotlight eccentricity, Roy Kim’s Blooming Season communicates an understanding for difference, for melancholy, for the struggles of learning to let go and move on.

As listeners, we become aware that the young singer-songwriter himself is in the process of blossoming. He uses his music to convey this range of human experiences and emotions, while offering a reassurance that all these are indeed part of life. As Spring slowly comes to an end, Roy Kim’s Blooming Season offers a reprieve from the heat of the incoming Summer.

Album Rating: 4.6/5

(Kpoply, The Diamondback, YouTube. Images via CJ E&M Music, Mnet)