As relayed in Ambika’s MV Review, talented vocal duo December — comprising of members Yun-hyuk and Dae-gyu — are temporarily going to take a leave from the music scene to fulfill their mandatory two years of service. The originators of countless gorgeous ballads since their debut in 2009, December’s hiatus is nevertheless an unfortunate one. However, as a final parting present right before the end of the year, the two released their second album The Last Legacy. Accompanied by a hand-written letter of gratitude, the album is a sentimental goodbye from the two, trying to leave to fans their best impression before finally taking their leave.
Opening with the lead single “Don’t Go,” the powerful yet bittersweet tone of the rest of the album follows is established in the first few seconds of the song. Starting with the delicate sounds of woodwinds and acoustics, the sound stabilizes itself with the inclusion of the duo’s vocals, making for an overall impactful piece. Undoubtedly, the vocal work is top notch. The duo’s vocal control is very apparent in the verses, and the vocal runs sprinkled all over the entirety of the song are absolutely divine. The bridge preceding the chorus is especially heavenly, for while it is so sadly fleeting, it builds such a high tension that demands a satisfying conclusion. And while the chorus following that point could have better utilized the tension, it is still more than acceptable. Admittedly, the chorus does get repetitive and tiring, but it adds a stability the song needed. Lastly, the recurring sounds of acoustic guitar and flute integrated fittingly with the at-times overwhelming vocal work, creating a lofty balance that’s easy on the ears.
The track was produced by composer Cho Young-soo, the producer of numerous ballads in the Korean music scene. That being said, an interesting observation of the song is its similarity to another frequent partner of Cho’s: T-ara. The track is very reminiscent with some of T-ara’s more serious efforts, with the inclusion of woodwinds being especially reminiscent of this year’s “Don’t Leave” and “Day and Night,” ballad B-sides accompanying main singles “Day by Day” and Sexy Love” respectively. While not necessarily a critique on the song, it is still an interesting observation, since “Don’t Go” could have easily been mistaken as an answer song to the previous songs.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy8kvKn-wMw&w=560&h=315]
Following “Don’t Go” is the soothing “I Miss You.” Comprised dominantly with the musings of acoustic guitar, the sound and feel of the song is nostalgic yet relaxing, contrasting from the high, consistent tension of the previous song. However, while relaxing and tranquil, the song is still a testament of the duo’s superior vocal prowess. In particular, the pair’s vocal control is absolutely amazing to listen to in the song. While the two indulge in their divine vocal ad libs toward the very glorious bridge, due to skillful transitioning and masterful control, even the force of their vocals don’t interrupt the flow. Instead, despite featuring such a distinct climax, the bridge still manages to keep with relaxing progression the rest of the song followed, making for a highly enjoyable listen.
The following song on the album is “While I Have Not Seen You,” a very fluid and smooth track with clear R&B influences. The highly dynamic sound is an absolute treat on the ears, with the combination of the delicate woodwinds, stable percussion, and climactic strings making for an intriguing instrumental. The rap sections were nicely added, and the bridge had some of the best vocal runs I’ve heard. However, by far, my favorite aspect of the song is its chorus, where the dynamic sound of the song manages to fully culminate.
The fourth song of the album is “Remember Me.” Opening with a gorgeous piano intro, the track follows closely with the previous with its dynamic and fluid sound. As expected with a duo like December, the vocal work is again spotless, but the harmonies in the bridges are especially enjoyable to listen to. Again, the chorus of this song is also its high point, with the change from the calmer verses to the impactful chorus handled cleanly and effectively.
The nostalgic “So Beautiful” is next. Slightly contrasting from the previous songs, the track features a highly piano-dominant sound. While definitely gorgeous to listen to, “So Beautiful” is likely one of the more forgettable tracks on the album, since there isn’t really a distinct feature of the song that would stick to a listener. That being said, the chorus of this song is still a piece of art, and the electric guitar implemented in the later parts of the track was a nice addition.
“I’ll Say I Love You” continues with the highly piano dominant sound established by the previous song, however the melodic use of of percussion added a bit more stability lacking in the last song. The shifts in sound were definitely nice surprises. The first shift between the soothing verses to the highly triumphant chorus being jarring yet so enjoyable, with the powerful sound of the chorus probably being my favorite point in the entire album. Moreover, the rap following the first chorus was another unexpected surprise, adding yet another refreshing change in pace. After the relatively formulaic natures of the previous songs the preceded it, “I’ll Say I Love You” is a refreshing and absolutely necessary change in pace, adding to the whole experience of the album.
Next track “Passion” is definitely an intriguing listen. It features my favorite instrumental of the many tracks in the album, with the combination of heated acoustics, impactful strings, and some grounded percussion making a very energetic and consistent sound. The progression of the song feels familiar and intimate, yet the song has this fantasy story-like quality to it that is absolute refreshing in the context of the rest of the album.
The last song of the album is “She’s Gone.” A fluid, dynamic piece, the track — originally released earlier this year in the duo’s mini album of the same name — is a great conclusion to the consistent and highly enjoyable album. The track retains many of the sounds found in the first song with its similar uses of flute and percussion, unifying the entire album in a sense.
Overall a success, The Last Legacy is a very poignant and powerful listen, the perfect parting gift to fans of the duo. The deeply affecting sound of the album definitely leaves a lasting impression to the pair’s admirers, which was probably December’s intention in the first place. Admittedly, the majority of the songs followed the same or similar progression, but most of the songs had specific distinctions that made each a pleasure to listen to.
In conclusion, I give December’s The Last Legacy a 4.5/5. Readers, what are your thoughts on the album. Who else will miss December when they leave?