In 37 short minutes, Castlebeat’s Melodrama transforms what used to be speedy tempos and beach-rock riffs into a thoughtful, electronic new sound. Josh Hwang of Castlebeat is used to life’s changes and is built to adapt to them well. When he eventually got bored of his acoustic guitar and moved to the eccentric neighborhood of Bushwick from the small bouts of Orange County, his music went along with him.
Synthesizers and light drums overtake the first four tracks of Melodrama, yet there are remnants of Castlebeat’s first two albums, VHS and CASTLEBEAT. “Summertime”, like his eponymous album’s first track “Dreamgaze”, takes its time to explore the vague relativity of time; those moments where some moments seem to drag out longer than others. Middle tracks “Shoulder” and “Who You Are” stick to the beachy melodies that his fans adore. However, the rest of the album is completely unexpected.
As the album title suggests, the rest of the tracks are slower and a bit melancholic, perhaps meant for evening walks around the city rather than top-down road trips. “Part” is a standout track. After four seconds, the song hits with a heavy drop of electronic bass and drums. Reminiscent of “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol, this track fills itself with emotional weight while carrying itself with such simplicity.
Castlebeat released the last track, “East Coast”, in late 2019, written while he had still lived in Brooklyn. “East Coast” is one of the only tracks that is neither pure synths nor pure guitar, but both. Here, his roots and his new experiences merge into a well-rounded ending track. “I’m leaving without you / I’m on the east coast” encapsulates the themes of Melodrama perfectly— the independence that comes with trying something new.