It doesn’t take long going into ‘Second Wind’ to understand why BSS would make an album like this. Throughout their years in SEVENTEEN, the subunit of Seungkwan, DK and Hoshi have been chaos incarnate, infusing the group’s dynamics with hilarity. It makes sense that their first release in five years would be a record that exudes endless, sunny optimism.
In racing, ‘Second Wind’ refers to a phenomenon where the runner – after almost giving in to bone-breaking exhaustion – finds a new burst of energy and strength to press on. Over the three tracks of this single album, which dropped February 6, BSS compare life to an onerous race, honing in on three key moments in the day where we might need an extra boost. They aim to become the ‘Second Wind’ beneath our wings, encouraging us to go on, take one more step and persevere.
The ‘ultimate daily running mix’, as they’ve called it, kicks off with ‘Fighting’ featuring NME 100 rapper Lee Young Ji. This lead single captures the dread we all feel in the mornings at the prospect of a long day ahead. Inspired by the Korean term used to encourage people through challenging situations, the song’s arrangement of bouncy drums and funky rhythms works better than a shot of caffeine.
That’s especially because BSS eschew the misinformed positivity that so often riddles conversations about the hopelessness of life. Instead of forcing toxic optimism down our throats, they’re the friends who are also in the same boat, reframing the platitudes we’re so used to hearing: “We’re playing this crumpled life like / Some down-on-his-luck Beethoven / Keep calm and play on the next movement / We got plenty more pages left to play”.
We move then to ‘LUNCH’, when post-meal drowsiness sets in and second thoughts about whether you really need your job return in full force. Not to worry: riding in on a neo-soul-inspired R&B arrangement, BSS cheer the listener on – with clever throwbacks to some of SEVENTEEN’s songs – towards the end of the day. While the song earns points for its buoyancy, the energy hits a plateau and fizzles out towards the end, particularly on account of the somewhat repetitive progression.
But BSS recover from this stumble effortlessly on ‘7 PM’. Inspired by the weariness of another arduous day, the project retires its otherwise cheerful sound for a more comforting approach. The trio’s complementary voices wrap around you like a hug, soaking up the after-hours anxieties with kind words.
Once again, instead of relying on hollow optimism, BSS and guest artist Peder Elias surprise the listener with clear-eyed lyrics: “I’m tryna stay afloat but I’m in deep / I’m trying to stay floating, but I’m falling / Oh I’m so tired I can’t even sleep. Oh, I’m too tired to fall asleep/ Oh and I never prioritise my wants and needs.” A heartwarming, welcoming picture materialises as their voices play off of each other. “It’s been a long day/ But it’s OK / But that’s all right/ Because at 7 o’clock, you’ll be here with me,” they say. After the day you’ve had, ‘Second Wind’ will feel like coming home.