Starting as street performers, male pop duo Martin Smith are now performing at the biggest music festivals in the country. They became known to the public when they appeared on Superstar K7, the most famous audition program in Korea. Jeon Tae Won, the leader, guitarist and vocalist, and Jeong Hyuk, the other vocalist, amazed the panel and viewers with their unique arrangement of “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, reaching the top 5. Two years after their appearance on television, Martin Smith came back with their first Extended Play (EP) album SLATE (2018).
▲ The cover of the album SLATE. Provided by YES24.com
Comprising six tracks composed and written by the members, SLATE describes the love story of a twenty-year-old boy. The first track depicts his crush on a girl, and the second and third tracks are about his heart racing with romance. The fourth is when the couple goes through a conflict and the fifth depicts the breakup. The boy accepts their parting on the last track.
How devoted they were to strengthen their concept can be found everywhere, both inside and outside of the album itself. Before releasing the album, Martin Smith portrayed their album’s theme, the process of love, with web dramas. The idea to use one of the trendiest media forms not only introduces the overall view of their album, but also powers their cinematic album concept. Their album cover also looks like a film; the photo of the two members with an analog filter is placed in the center, and the rest is black. “We wanted the listeners to feel like they are listening to a film with our album,” they mentioned in interview with the Hankook Ilbo.
The first track is “Crazy,” featuring the famous fingerstyle guitarist Jung Sung Ha. The lyrics of the chorus best indicate that a boy has fallen in love with a girl: “I must be crazy, what I say after thinking about you.” The gentle sound of Jung Sung Ha’s guitar creates a delicate atmosphere, and the straightforward lyrics of the boy in love make the listeners’ heart flutter. The boy says that everything in his world has started to look beautiful all because of the girl. The harmonious mingling of the natural and falsetto voice in the chorus rings in the listeners’ ears.
The second track “Paint on Spring” and the third track “I Wanna Know” were released earlier than the album as digital singles. The two are also love songs, but their moods differ from “Crazy.” The pop sound of “Paint on Spring” depicts a delightful, spring mood, and “I Wanna Know” plays with the grander, richer sound of modern rock. The first three tracks of the album show that the two members are fully capable of illustrating the single theme of love with three different styles painted with their unique voices.
The fourth track “Need a Love” features female vocalist YESEO and talks about the immature mistakes that a young man can make in his first romantic relationship. The catchy hook and the well-matched voice of the female vocals stand out. The fifth track “Stupid Love” is much more delightful than “Need a Love,” with the lyrics illustrating that the boy is missing the girl after their break up. In the last track “I Need Your Love,” the boy seems to finally let the girl leave his heart. Vocalist Jeon Tae Won’s rap verse demonstrates their boundless musical talent.
From when a boy first falls in love until he finally lets the girl go, the album SLATE talks about a typical love story that most of the listeners would have experienced. Unlike their previous digital singles, releasing an EP album that has a clear cinematic concept is a notable attempt to prove themselves as skilled artists. After releasing SLATE, Martin Smith still performs zealously at concerts, on TV, and on collaboration albums. The two smiths are at their finest with a guitar in hand and will continue to exhibit their unique style and talent to the public.