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Gus Benevolent‘s A Thing Called Tomorrow was the reintroduction of the vocalist from 99Anger. The punk band formed so many memories when I started listening to Korean music and it was sad to hear the band ended. Then when Hyun Lee began a new musical presence as Gus Benevolent, I was interested. A Thing Called Tomorrow was a great release with excellent songs, but Alexandria is so much better.
The improvements begin with Gus Benevolent’s voice. It’s more raw and it’s easier to hear stark emotion. Some of that comes from his 99Anger covers like “Music Brings Me Here.” His voice never sounds strained, just more emotive. A Thing Called Tomorrow had pieces of this, but throughout Alexandria you really feel something more powerful.
Alexandria’s 15 songs are some of the best released this year. The biggest change is that Alexandria features Gus Benevolent and his guitar. A Thing Called Tomorrow had a “band” feeling with additional instruments. So on this set of songs, you get drawn in by the sparseness of each song. “Humans, Humans, Humans” is one of my favorite. It’s message is honest and you can hear and feel the sincerity in the vocals.
Alexandria features a lot of strong songs like “Seize The Day (Tribute to Robin Williams) and “Love in Fear,” but “Alexandria” is one that sticks in my head. The last repeating verse echoes so much and I was surprised by the song. It’s hard to pick an absolute favorite song from Alexandria because there so many great ones. A great plus is that Gus Benevolent sings in English so understanding the lyrics isn’t difficult. His pronunciation is clean and following the lyrics is easy.
I wasn’t expecting Gus Benevolent to release another album after A Thing Called Tomorrow so quickly. But it sounds like he’s much more comfortable with a sparse setup that highlights his voice and guitar. I liked the previous EP, but Alexandria blows it out of the water. It’s definitely among by favorite this year.