Casual K-pop listeners might be surprised by Day6. Where those artists who grab headlines in the West largely employ a mix of hip-hop, EDM, and pop, thIS five-piece have over the past four years sewn up the rockier end of pop’s spectrum. Over three albums and four EPs (and 2017’s monthly singles series ‘Every Day6’), they’ve marked themselves out as experts in earnest piano ballads and chugging rock riffs. They eschew complex choreography in favour of playing their own instruments, bringing with them the bone-shaking energy of live rock performance.
Seven months after wrapping up their ‘Youth’ series with the surging, soulful ‘Remember Me’, the pop-rockers return with a new chapter to begin unfolding. ‘The Book Of Us: Gravity’ finds the band in their best, most eclectic form yet, exploring new subject matter and new sounds with a slickness that makes the changes feel subtle and natural, like you’re listening to a pre-destined evolution in process.
Where the ‘Youth’ series tackled the issues faced growing up, ‘The Book Of Us’ takes its inspiration from human relationships – both with other people and those we have with ourselves. Bouncy opener ‘For Me’ begins with a big question – “Who am I?” – and takes listeners on the journey of looking yourself in the mirror, facing up to who you are and learning to embrace that person. ‘How To Love’ continues that theme of learning to love, with a chorus sung half in English and half in Korean that roughly translates to “Can you tell me how to love? / I have no idea.” Whether bassist and singer Young K’s lyrics are seeking lessons in loving himself or someone else is unclear, but the emotions behind it shine like crystal.
While some of this six-track EP sticks to familiar territory (see the peppy pop-punk of the Fall Out Boy-inspired ‘Time Of Our Life’), others expand Day6’s horizons. ‘Wanna Go Back’ jangles with wiry guitar lines from Jae and Sungjin, reminiscent of The 1975, and a smooth but air-punching chorus Shawn Mendes would probably love to lay claim to. ‘Best Part’, a rousing call to make the most of every moment, highlights the additional synths used on this release. Like Mumford & Sons in their “electronic” phase if someone gave it a rub with shimmering pop polish, it’s euphoric and joyous, not least in the line “I’m living the ‘me’ today to the fullest / So the ‘me’ tomorrow can be happy” or when the band join together to sing, “Every moment’s gonna be my/Best part.” The latter is delivered with so much heart and vigour it’s as if their very existence depends on it.
The vibrant brightness of ‘The Book Of Us’ might mask some darker moment (like the anxieties on ‘Cover’), but, once it’s let out its final, glimmering roar, what’s left is a palpable feeling of hope. With a world tour due to kick off later this year, Day6 look set to paint each stop on the trip in infectious, dazzling optimism.