A debut is tricky territory. It sets the tone for what fans can expect from this new group. Will they come hard, or will they disappoint? Is it a group with potential to grow into something phenomenal, or will they vanish into obscurity?
Although, there are groups who have succeeded despite dismal debuts, a memorable beginning ensures a better chance at longevity. Day6 begins their journey as a band in a bright direction called The Day. While their sound isn’t fully defined, this mini-album showcases their talent just enough to want to hear more.
Instead of a time-filling intro, the album starts right away with a vibrant pop track called “Freely.” Off the bat, I appreciate the fact that things jump straight into the music without an instrumental setup. There’s no lag time before we hear the vocals, giving a sense of urgency which complements the lyrics. “Freely” is your typical, carefree fare about living life in the moment and seizing the day.
This song is meant to lighten the mood, so it’s not necessary to have deep lyrical content here. More of the focus is on the vocals, which are mixed quite nicely with the backing track. Personally, I’m not keen on the usage of Wonpil‘s nasally tone, but the way Jae‘s voice cracked a little during the bridge made me swoon.
The next song is “Out of My Mind,” which expresses the feelings of frustration towards a lover who isn’t forthcoming with her emotions. Does she like him? Does she hate him? Day6 doesn’t know, and it’s driving them crazy! Musically and lyrically, the song isn’t that interesting, save for the chorus. Still, Young K‘s rap break fits in well as a bridge. It’d likely be the part where he’d encourage an audience to clap right before he gets down, which works great for live performances, but doesn’t translate so well in a studio recording.
This brings us to the title track, “Congratulations.” This rock ballad echoes the sarcastic sentiment of someone who discovers his lover moved on during a break in the relationship.
Congratulations, you’re unbelievable
Congratulations, how could you do that
Like nothing happened
You broke my heart
Your smiling face shows that you got over me
Dowoon‘s drum skills caught me from the beginning, not because it was anything new or fresh, but because of how the beat fit with the mood of this song. The heavy snap of the beats accentuated this hard-edged tone of a love-gone-wrong. Also, Young K surprised me by not displaying the usual JYP-style of rapping. The rhythm flows in and out naturally, which I’m not used to hearing in songs by JYP artists.
“Habits” appropriately follows up next on the album and talks about the lingering effects of a breakup. Adjusting to single life doesn’t come easy for Day6 as they wish for their ex to return, so they can experience those happy moments again.
Junhyeok stood out vocally with his warm texture, and Sungjin added some brightness as well. Their voices blend nicely together, but Young K’s rough tone felt a little off here. I wish I could’ve heard more from Jae instead, but overall, the song gave me a cozy, cuddly feeling. It’s like that cup of cocoa you drink in the morning after a long night of binge-eating ice cream post-breakup.
“Like That Sun” lives up to its name with a light, island vibe. The intro starts off reminding me a little of Toto‘s “Africa.” It appears the Wonder Girls aren’t the only ones getting the retro treatment for their music as synths cement the foundation of the song. The mix of ’80s pop with ’70s funk makes for a tune you’d play while playing at the beach.
The lyrics are more positive than the last two tracks, hinting a potential new love. We’re in the honeymoon phase of the relationship, so unicorns are dancing on rainbows while puppies play with kittens in a box — all of that fluff and stuff. The message repeats the same motto we got from the first song: Forget your worries and learn to live in the moment!
The final track is called “Colors” and is my favorite off the album. It evokes this simplistic romance in J-rock form. The crescendos into the chorus could’ve easily gone overboard, but the build-up is just enough to create an uplifting mood. The vocals really shine in this song and aren’t overpowered by the instrumentals.
The lyrics paint a picture of an unrequited love. Day6 wants to get closer to this girl but she’s unattainable for some reason.
Even if I reach out my hand
And try to catch you, the distance just grows
Even if I reach out my hand
And paint me like the light of a red sunset
So that I wouldn’t get lost
There is something tragically beautiful in the lyrics that will speak to any hopeless romantic. In terms of placement on the album, this was the best choice for an ending track because it was the strongest.
The Day comes off like a lot of pop rock albums with a mix of ballads and tracks made primarily for live performances. Considering that the group is promoting through busking and showcases instead of music shows, this probably works more to their strengths. The instrumentals and vocals cohesively blended together in every song, drawing out the individual talents of the members without focusing on any particular person.
A lot of people will probably listen to this album with a jaded impression, but I sense a potential for growth in this group. The band has laid out a solid foundation for a long-running career more than shooting for a short-term gimmick like many other rookies this year. If you look at it from that perspective, then Day6 did everything right in The Day. They established their sound, showcased their talent, and gave us an album worth hearing.
(YouTube, Images via JYP Entertainment)