I think it’s normal to feel a little melancholy when the seasons start to change. As the last weeks of spring give way to the growing pains of early summer, I’ve become more contemplative and unable to turn off my thoughts. So when I heard DEAN’s latest release, “Howlin’ 404,” for the first time, I instantly vibed with it — the moodiness, the distortion, the unevenness. Put simply: It sounded like how I felt. It’s not the first time the South Korean R&B crooner has projected his deep inner musings over a self-produced beat (see: 2018’s brilliant “Instagram“), but there’s something particularly raw about the guilt he expresses on this neo-soul track, how it consumes him like a void. “I’d be howlin’ for ya / Before the shadows drag me under / ‘Cause when the darkness took me over / I wouldn’t know what I have lost,” he sings.
The song — sung entirely in English — is part of the pensive artist’s forthcoming release, an album set in a dystopian future that he calls an “explosion of experimental, creative, and artistic elements that I’ve been holding back for a long time.” Inspired by DEAN, I’m going to try and channel my seasonal restlessness into creative fuel. After all, summer is just around the corner, and with it comes some much-needed clarity and perspective. —Crystal Bell