Parnnoul Dreams of a Beautiful Future

Chimney and smoke against blue sky.

Few albums embody the sentiment of music being a universal language, quite like “To See the Next Part of the Dream.”

The second studio album from South Korean indie artist Paranoid predominantly operates  in lo-fi, emo and shoegaze. Despite the language barrier of the album, the distorted riffs and fuzzy drums communicate everything that is needed.

Almost replacing the instrumentals, the vocals throughout this album are always a vital part of the tracks. Even if what the speaker says is unknown or unclear, the feeling that is poured into the performance on this album is incredible.

With the vocals giving the distinct impression of someone looking in on a happier world from the fringes, the lyricss manage to stir up feelings of melancholy nearly wherever they are found.

The album’s themes of inadequacy and of being a failure, are established firmly in the opening track “Beautiful World.” The piano notes and forlorn vocals impart a distinct feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Slowly building tension throughout the 5 minute run time, the track feels like a mental breakdown of some kind by its end. This track alone is nearly enough to overshadow the rest of the album, although this is not indicative that  the rest of the album is  poor by any means.

“White Ceiling” is another striking moment on the album, the longest track running a total of 10 minutes. The distracting alarms at the front and end of the track bookend nicely the dreamlike and purgatorial world presented in the lyrics and vocals.

Driving drums and guitars at the end of the track communicates a feeling of frustration and anger, particularly towards the singer himself.

“Age of Fluctuation,” another of the longer cuts at around 9 minutes, is perhaps one of the most distorted and fuzzy tracks on the album. The track bleeds into itself on several occasions, instrumentation and vocals drowning each other out.

This blend gives the track the feeling of time passing by, slipping through the singer’s fingers as he watches it pass.

The album’s back half gives a much-needed reprieve from the loud and aggressive first half. The pleasant “Extra Story” and “Chicken” allow listeners to breathe with some surprisingly precise acoustic instrumentation, a moment of reflection for both listeners and singers.

The final track, “I Can Feel My Heart Touching You,” is the culmination of the themes throughout the album. It delivers a refreshing dose of optimism that gives the sense that the speaker is finally moving on and beginning to see spots of happiness in their life, quite literally the next part of their dream.

“To See the Next Part of the Dream” is an incredible feat of emotional storytelling that potently communicates frustration and unhappiness. While still using traditional shoegaze and emo aesthetics, Parannoul has carved out their own space in the broader world of those genres in a compelling way.