Boys embrace: Nell, Separation anxiety


Nell, Separation Anxiety

March, 20, 2008 | Ullim Entertainment / Mnet Media

Nell (넬) is a band who stands inbetweens. They exist between modern rock and ‘modern rock gayo,’ between indie scene and mainstream, between popularity and commerciality, between possibilities and establishment, between well-made music and well-made-only music, between fresh and deja entendu, between borrowing of the foreign and creatively appropriatiing it, between sharp sensitivity and over-self-indulgence, and finally between boys and girls.

In other words, they stand at the point where Korean musicians, who are now regarded as “creative,” have been through or have stepped back. The difference between Nell and them is that the former has stayed at that point since they debuted. This might be a reason they have brought about extreme reactions, either praises or abhorrences, from fans and critics. All of this happened despite the fact that their music itself is not controversial at all in nature. It is a guitar rock with tidy melodies made by boys that what Nell’s music is all about.

Between here and there, the choice

Thus how you judge Nell’s fourth album (sixth including ones from their indie era) depends on they make their choice about the betweens. Will they break through, will they step back? They choose neither. They occupy. They cling. They seem to choose to be an “inbetween.” Thus they make a “inbetween” their identity. Compared to their previous albums, they put a lot of energy in fusing electronic and acoustic music. But they are still making “non-controversial controversial” music. It means that this album sounds great, is made with delicate care, and is worth receiving attentions and affections. It sounds afloat a half step above earth. Pretty rock music.

P.S. Considering “inbetweens,” the album title, “separation anxiety” seems significant to me. Now is it inseparable?

Originally written in Korean for and published March 26, 2008 at Magazine T.
The image is by 백가현 and taken from Magazine T.

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