Review: Parannoul Finds Inspiration in Pandemic Fatigue

“To See The Next Part of the Dream” is shoegaze for the pandemic exhaustion set


James Madonia '24, Author

As 2021 ended and the third anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic began, many were experiencing a sharp decline in mental health – anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation are all unfortunate side effects of being trapped in our damn houses for three years in a row. Accordingly, there’s been a wave of music focused on the pandemic that’s been released in the past year. Korean indie rock and shoegaze artist Parannoul is one such artist capitalizing on the pandemic to express his rapidly declining mental health through his 2021 release, To See The Next Part of the Dream.


As soon as the listener hits play on the first track, they’re inundated in warm, lush, welcoming distorted guitar after a brief yet oh-so-sweet drum solo as a short piano loop encircles the listener. Soon enough, the vocalist comes in and, although he’s singing in Korean, his meaning crosses any language barrier to communicate something incredibly human – pure, unadulterated emotion.


The opening track sets a lyrical theme for the rest of the album – he sings of his loss of touch in reality, his desperation, his intense desire to escape. Calling “the whole world someone else’s dream” [Paranoul’s lyrics are sung in Korean but translated here], Parannoul describes how he feels alienated from today’s turbulent environment. The next track, “Excuse,” features equally dismal and cynical lyrics as well as a cool instrumental break halfway through – Parannoul gives the floor to the drums as he leaves the guitar to its own devices. This is also true of the track, “Chicken” which, while being mostly instrumental, still manages to be really groovy.

Now, sure, the lyrics can be incredibly juvenile (“Now I lie here alone / Having no power to stand / Everyone changes / But my days are too late”) but I feel like without that signature bluntness these lyrics just wouldn’t hit as hard. Similarly, the production isn’t too great; the audio quality is so bad at times it hurts my ears and can sound very cacophonous but, again, the record just wouldn’t be the same without that raw lo-fi aesthetic. A lot of the tracks sound very similar almost to the point of each song sounding too much the same (keyword: almost). But hey, no album is without its shortcomings. It’s the small imperfections that make an album human (especially one dealing with such a grounding topic). In the text that accompanies the album on the Bandcamp site, Parannoul self-describes as an “active loser” and writes of his singing skills in the third person as “f**king awful” but, ultimately, his self-awareness allows him to create a work of art that many can relate to, especially during the pandemic. 

Where the album really shines, though, is through its 7+ minute long epics. “White Ceiling,” “Youth Rebellion,” and “Age of Fluctuation” all bring a lot to the table. Lyricism about the duality of time, dissociation, and disillusionment can be incredibly depressing paired with the angsty, emotional instrumentation. The true centerpiece of the record, I believe, is the 10-minute long masterpiece “White Ceiling” in which Parannoul builds layer after layer until the track explodes in a bout of profound catharsis.

A friend of mine described this album as “what it feels like to live in a Studio Ghibli film” and honestly, I can’t think of any phrase more accurate. Dreamy at times, grounded at others, Parannoul latches onto the angst we all have toward this seemingly-endless pandemic and uses it to create one of the most remarkable recent albums of its genre.