GRMLN is the solo project of Yoodoo Park, a Japanese-American songwriter who was raised in Southern California. After debuting his first record during his teens, he has since had a consistent slew of releases through a career spanning almost a decade. “Morning Star” is his 13th release to date, an impressive feat in and of itself that solidifies his growth as a DIY songwriter through the years.
“Morning Star” finds Park in a different environment, as it was written right after his move halfway across the globe to settle in Australia. As such, there’s a sense of wonder and adventure that can be heard in this album. Park’s lush production is still key, with smooth gliding melodies and wide reverb to accentuate his gentle vocals. Surf rock is still a mainstay of his sound, but it has since been infused with other shades of contemporary indie rock that gives GRMLN a more robust and fuller sound. It’s dreamy and propulsive, another step forward for an artist who just gets better with every new album.
The album opens with the relaxing “Drive”. Dimmed riffs and solemn harmonies make this track feel like a windy stroll on an evening by a long mountain road, with a cool breeze brought about by Park’s lush croons.
“Heavens” is equal parts prayer, reflection and meditation. A smooth drifting melody that finds Park reflecting on his doubts, seeking comfort in a place that’s: “Too far from home to walk again / Too far from home to start again”.
“Human” shifts the sound into 80’s new wave with a large aqueous filter glossed over glimmering riffs and vocals, while “Fear” manipulates all of that open space and shifts it into a haunting experience. In these tracks Park uses the reverb to evoke both fear and anxiety while the chilling instrumentation makes it all go down smoothly like spiced whiskey. “Idols” rounds out these three cold and dark tracks, except here we find Park in a more resolute and affirmed state – finally honing in on the decision to move forward and leave his past life behind.
“Tears” follows in one of the standout tracks of the album. Park strips down the production, leaving only vocals and guitars in a heartfelt song that he wrote specifically to help him sleep and ease his anxiety. An sobering moment of self-reflection and comfort that we could use every now and then.
Morning Star is a stellar addition to GRMLN’s consistently growing discovery. Treat yourself to a good time and dig into this stellar indie rocker who’s aged even better as time goes by.