New Band of the Day #65: 3rd Line Butterfly

The group’s 5th album, Divided By Zero is out now via Southpole Sound Lab

Who: 남상아 (Nam Sang Ah) – vocals & guitar, 서현정 (Suh Hyun Jeong) – drums, 김남윤 (Kim Nam Yoon) – bass

What: Indie Rock/Alternative Dance/Electropop/Alternative

Where: Seoul, South Korea

Why:  3rd Line Butterfly are an ever present institution of South Korea’s independent music space, but minus a small performance at SXSW in 2013, they haven’t quite made the jump into a western space yet. Since their debut album Self-Titled Obsession in 2000, the band has rode the cutting edge in Korea for almost two decades, finally pushing into bonafide crossover success with 2012’s dreamy, and textured Dreamtalk. Runaway indie hits like “Today, the Day of Speration” (below) and “Smoke Hot Coffee Refill”, saw the band twisting pop songs into something complex, and emotionally-dense.

Five years later, 3rd Line Butterfly return with an album that has to satisfy the expectations of such an incredible wait, and their own looming musical legacy. Not to mention make that long overdue break-out in the west. Sidestepping the weight of any such comparison, 3rd Line Butterfly have completely reinvented themselves with Divided By Zero. Opening with the 11 minute long indie-rock/dance-pop/post-rock explosion of “나를 깨우네 Awaken”, Divided By Zero sounds like a band pushing themselves to the absolute limit. From the bitter, sarcastic punk rock of “Homo Ludens” to the almost Crystal Castles-esque dance-pop of “Sense Trance Dance” or Portishead-esque, trip-hop tinged “Put Your Needle on the Groove”.

Transcending those aesthetic differences though, is an underlying propulsive energy that permeates through everything, whether it’s the emotional punch of the b-side ballads, or the explosive crescendo of an a-side jam. From 남상아’s vocals, which find her belting out lyrics in a whimper or a growl, with everything she’s got, to 박현준’s furious base lines which slink at the bottom of almost every song here, adding sensual grooves and thick layers of grime. It’s an album to get off the chair and dance to, that bursts open with emotion on every track, and if they can’t make it the west with this, then no Korean indie band ever will.

“Only Thing I Know/ When I Dance I’m Alive”

Find 3rd Line Butterfly on Facebook.

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