After releasing mini-album, Grown Up, earlier this year, F.T. Island has been busy in Japan, releasing their third Japanese studio album 20 [twenty] as well as embarking on a concert tour titled F.T. Island Summer Tour 2012: Run! Run! Run! And now, just recently, the group released their fourth Korean studio album, Five Treasure Box, which contains ten tracks in its entirety. However, for fans that follow both Korean and Japanese releases, this full-length album will seem more like a 5-track mini-album as the latter 5 tracks are Korean remakes of songs released in the aforementioned 20[twenty].
All members have contributed to this album whether by composition or lyric-writing. A majority of the songs contain this type of input. Indeed, the only three tracks don’t that have the members’ fingers in them, including the title track, “I Wish.”
The first track of the album is the title song.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYYMDmhfMpk&w=560&h=315]
The touch of acoustic guitar and brass is a wonderful beginning, giving the track a strong start. But then the chorus starts, which is very distinctly along the style of F.T. Island. That chorus almost seems to belong in an entirely different song. It breaks the flow of the rest of the song which has so much going for it. Perhaps if there had been a way to integrate more of that acoustic instead of switching it up to the electric guitar, the track may have been more cohesive. Overall, the title track is strong, but full of oh-so-much regret at how the development of the track could have progressed with a different type of chorus.
The second track is “Your Words.” The song resonates with a melancholic twang throughout with appropriate emoting from Hong-ki. Highlights are when there’s minimal background and just Hong-ki’s voice as well as a mini guitar solo around the three minute mark. The recurring line “I’ll never leave you” sticks with the listener, solidifying the words that the song is about. The track is a solid listen, but nothing impressive.
Third is “Stay With Me,” which has lyrics contributed by Hong-ki. The song features a faster tempo with a jamming beat. Surprisingly, Hong-ki’s voice seems to fall a little flat in the song. There isn’t as much emotion, part of which can be attributed to the shorter lines that don’t allow for Hong-ki to do those long notes he’s so good at. The background music is keeps the song flowing with quick movements and changes. Unexpectedly, the melody line bears similarities to The Offspring‘s “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid,” and now I keep hearing one when it’s really the other.
Next is “U (All I Want Is You),” which has leader Jong-hun involved in its composition and is an absolute gem.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxoGFc0Efsc&w=560&h=315]
I believe Jae-jin starts the song off, his thinner but no less expressive voice instantly making a nice contrast to Hong-ki’s thicker and richer voice. Jae-jin even takes those higher notes, hitting pitches that might seem questionable, but fit the song well. The song is lighthearted and bright, very full of contentment. Some of the verses take on a lazy swing that adds a bit to the playful mood. And this mood accurately reflects lyrics of those feelings of love. It’s an enjoyable listen that is still unique enough to be interesting.
The fifth, and last of the new songs, is “Send Away,” a slower ballad. Hong-ki’s vocals begin delicately to the soft notes of a piano. But then, after a minute or so, the vocals truly explode along with the background music, which has great many more layers added. The entire song is regretful, of a love that can’t happen, and emotion-packed. One of the best parts of F.T. Island’s songs is when they give their instruments their own time–clearly as they’re a band–and don’t just have filler music. This song has another one of those guitar solos that helps break up the song a bit more and introduce elements to keep the listener listening.
The sixth song, “Paper Plane,” begins the Korean remakes of Japanese songs. The song is good. Really good, I think. It makes sense why they would want to put this in their Korean album, especially since Jae-jin had a part in the lyrics and composition of the song. While some remakes sound unpleasant when translating languages, this song sounds equally good in Korean and Japanese. Jae-jin starts the song off with a lower pitch, and then it passes to Hong-ki’s higher vocals. Seung-hyun‘s vocals also make an appearance, switching it up a bit, helping make the song even better. Jae-jin brings the song to a high with more power in his voice as he hits that long note. Just a good song.
Seventh brings us “Wanna Go,” with lyrics from Jae-jin and composition by Seung-hyun and drummer Min-hwan. This is another upbeat song that hits the spot. Though in contrast to the previous song, this one seems to sound better in its Japanese version. Hong-ki and Jae-jin’s vocals work together to interweave between one another. Seung-hyun sings and raps in some parts, adding a rawer set of vocals. The entire song is so full of energy that it’s a pleasure to listen.
“Life” is slower than the previous two tracks, but doesn’t lack in intensity. With lyrics by Hong-ki and composition by Jong-hun, the track takes a break from the more hectic tracks to slow down and let the emotions roll in. And this is another track that sounds equally good in Korean and Japanese. This seems to be a trend with their Japanese music: more members are involved in the vocals, which is much appreciated, especially when practically all the members can sing decently, not that Hong-ki isn’t a good vocalist. As in this song, he’s able to pull out that emotion with that vibrato and power, and it really pushes the song to an inspiring end.
The penultimate track is “Compass,” lyrics by Hong-ki and composition by Min-hwan and Seung-hyun (Japanese version here). A slower track, it’s good to slow the album down to its close. Little traces of bass guitar that are more obvious and a guitar solo step the track up, but they aren’t enough to combat the very heavy beat that drags the song down, making it a bit bland. If anything, this song seems a bit like a filler or that song they sing at a concert between other ones because everyone needs a break.
And last, the album ends with “Let It Go!,” penned and composed by Jong-hun, Hong-ki, and Min-hwan.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYgmgSMc9M8&w=560&h=315]
This song was actually released in Japan mid-2011 as a single (Japanese MV above). It was included in 20[twenty] earlier this year. The uptempo song speaks of accomplishing dreams by letting go of doubts or inhibitions and just going for it. It provides a good close to the album, nicely wrapping up in F.T. Island’s style. The refrain lyrics of “Let it go my baby” are particularly catchy. Like several of the group’s songs, this one is also full of energy. The song itself seems to follow a familiar formula and isn’t outstanding, but it’s fun ends the album on a good note.
A note to take from this album release is that F.T. Island releases a lot of good music in Japan. The Korean counterparts to their Japanese music aren’t half bad, making me wonder if some of these tracks were created with the intention to crossover in mind. Another note is that the band can make good music on their own, to the point where perhaps their next album will have them promote a song of their own doing. There’s a distinct split in this album between the Korean and Japanese songs, and it’s easy to tell which ones were originally Japanese. For that, the album loses a tad in cohesiveness. But this album is a solid one, with really no horrible mishaps. There are some less than great songs, but the overall quality is very high, giving the album a 4.25/5.
Recommended: “U(All I Want Is You),” “Paper Plane,” “Wanna Go,” “Life”
Worth A Listen: “I Wish,” “Stay With Me,” “Send Away,” “Let It Go!”
So Seoulmates, how did you like F.T. Island’s Five Treasure Box? Any favorites? If you found any differences between the first and second halves to be particularly noticeable, which half did you like better? Leave us a comment with your thoughts!
(FNC Music, lovelypinkpu2, F.T. Island Official Website, jh_ly, TheChrysantheme5)