For their 15th anniversary, the members of TVXQ returned with New Chapter #2: The Truth of Love, with “Truth” as the title track. Following the sound of their preceding title track (“The Chance of Love”), “Truth” continues to show a mature, sophisticated side of the duo. It seems as though their post-military service music seems to lean towards a more subdued sound, straying away from Pop or the SMP genre that SM artists are known for.

Like “The Chance of Love”, “Truth” has strong influences from Jazz. The dance track draws heavily from R&B, and introduces some bass and synths throughout as well. “Truth” is interesting in the sense that both the instrumentals and vocals aren’t complex, but the track is far from boring.

Both members dialed back on the vocals, but the smooth delivery paired off wonderfully with the funky base. In some parts, Yunho and Changmin also opted for falsetto, which worked with jazzy instrumentals in the background. In the pre-chorus, when the instrumental turned down, so did the vocals, which allowed the vocal layering in the chorus to stand out as a result. Additionally, the ad-libbing at the end was a great touch. It felt true to the Jazz-inspired discography they’ve been going for since “Something”.

Despite being a song about heartbreak, “Truth” still manages to give off a positive vibe; the instrumentals, paired with the airy vocals of Yunho and Changmin bring an oddly light-hearted feel to a somewhat sad song. I say “somewhat”, because the lyrics point out the silver lining of breaking up with your lover (gasp), instead of wallowing in the sadness of the breaking up process itself.

We dream the same dream,
and look for true love.
Everyone lives with a scar or two,
that’s similar to me.
The reason why I dream again,
until I find
that one true love.

Both the instrumental and lyrics confluence to bring a more mature sound to TVXQ. After all, It’s common for K-Pop songs to be about love. What’s not common is such a grown-up view about splitting with someone. Co-writers Jacob Luttrell, Kyung Jin-hee, and Thomas Troelsen (also the writer of “Mirotic”) would have to be thanked for that.

The music video starts off promisingly as it hints at a storyline — Yunho broodingly walking under the rain, Changmin pensively standing in a phone-booth — but falls short of expectations. You could put both of them doing nothing but singing in a plain white room and I would still be happy, however, the hints of an actual plot throughout the non-dance scenes would make one wish for more.

Where the video lacks in plot, it makes up in visual motifs. The motif of rain and water is present from start to end, which has wide-ranging meanings. Both Yunho and Changmin are never shown to be drenched in the rain, but Changmin is seen with a large body of water in various shots. Yunho is seen with water in his car. Water, in general, represents life, freedom, and cleansing, which is apt:

They say you become numb with time.
Who said that?
My heart is still alive.

Rain is often associated with loneliness or isolation. In “Truth”, though, rain is only shown for some seconds. What’s more prominent in the video is the aftermath of rain: wet roads, puddles, Yunho’s perpetually wet hair. As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”. In that manner, the rain is related to the idea of renewal and rebirth, corresponding well to the message of the song.

Overall, “Truth” is a pretty calm song, which is accentuated by the blue hues, lights, and filtering of the video. Various shades of blue are used to bring out the cool and smooth emotion to the song, from the clothing to the set and the lighting. As the video progresses, there was some introduction of red lights and buildings in the set, probably to build up to the ad-libbing finale, where the street lights explode and give an orange-red hue to the video. It was a smart move to draw attention to the specific part of the song, because the track flows pretty smoothly to the ending and wouldn’t call for extra awareness without the help of the music video.

TVXQ’s dance has always been one of the reasons for the popularity, and their adaptability to various dance styles has always been admirable. In tune with the uncluttered vocals and uncomplicated instrumentals, TVXQ pulled off their choreography just as well. Despite big upper-body movements, they appeared to be light on their feet, and made the dance look as effortless as easy “Truth” is to listen.

TVXQ’s music this year is undoubtedly a far cry from their music in the past. Yet, songs like “Truth” do seem to fit TVXQ’s current image like a glove. They’ve shifted away from heavy beats and EDM-influenced tracks and moved towards R&B, Jazz and Pop sounds, making them more appealing to a wider audience due to how comfortable and relaxed their songs sound.

While I do think they’ve gotten great at this R&B-Jazz-Pop genre unique to them, I would love to see more instrumentally complex tracks from the duo. Right now, I’m at an odd fence where I love “Truth”, but know they have the capacity to go further and produce tracks that are more captivating. “Truth” still brings across all of TVXQ’s best qualities without going overboard, and is still a contender for one of the best title tracks this season.

(YouTube. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics. Images via SM Entertainment.)