While it may sound obvious, one would be surprised how often it’s forgotten–a killer melody is a clutch move when it comes to winning over audiences.
Up-and-coming Korean indie rockers Patients certainly haven’t forgotten this adage.
On their latest single “Sipalsegi,” released on April 29, there’s plenty of laudable moments, but it’s really all about that hook.
Patients are an unconventional power trio that formed in 2005 and features musicians Jo Sumin on bass and lead vocals, Kwon Kyuckjang on keyboards and Lee Jaehyuk on drums. If you’re waiting for the guitar to come in, you’ll stay waiting, because Patients abandon that instrument altogether.
“Sipalsegi” arrived earlier this year via Patients’ sophomore album, “18,” also released on April 29. It’s a characteristically high-energy dose of their brand of punchy pop, which Patients call “hybrid punk.” They describe hybrid punk as “the beauty of classic punk with Korean emotions and a willingness to experiment with other musical styles,” according to an interview in the website Beyond Hallyu .
While it’s true that Patients are unafraid to get their pop mixed in with their punk and vice versa, their knack for pure songwriting is what makes “Sipalsegi” so fresh.
After a brief yet heroic introduction, the song’s overriding melody is immediately presented. It’s a key moment.
While the majority of the song is sung in Korean, the chorus features a wordless hook, sung by the group en masse. This is significant for a few reasons. It knocks down the language barrier, for one. Plus, by singing the melody as opposed to presenting it instrumentally, it offers an additional human connection to the audience. This pristine melody is also brilliant for its malleability.
In the lead-up to the bridge, the band bends the hook into a minor key, continuing to rely on it for the song’s propulsion and memorable qualities.
That’s not to say that the song falls away without the presence of the melody. The hybrid punk style has plenty of room for the band’s quirks to shine through. This includes Jo’s fuzzed-out Rickenbacker bass riffs and Kwon’s flashy gestures on the piano, recalling a somewhat peppier brand of the sort of smart pop Ben Folds Five have been responsible for in the past.
“Sipalsegi” is overall a wholly well-executed slice of indie punk, but without that melody, it’s hard to imagine the song sticking with its audience beyond one or two listens.
By not only devising a crafty hook, but also ensuring that it would fit into the song’s structure in all right moments, Patients have branded themselves as one of the more mordant of the current crop of K-indie bands.
Watch the music video for the Patients song “Sipalsegi” RIGHT HERE
Jeff Tobias is a composer, musician and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been studying arcane systems of tuning and working on his jump shot.