In the midst of these shared tumultuous times, Day6 released the much-anticipated continuation of their The Book of Us series with The Book of Us: The Demon, a musically diverse album that is both brutally honest and extremely comforting. Across a variety of music styles and the unique creative contributions of all five members, Day6 takes listeners on a rollercoaster of emotions while proving again that they are truly remarkable artists.

After exploring the initial excitement of falling in love in The Book of Us: Gravity and embracing the chaos in The Book of Us: Entropy, things take a darker turn in The Demon as Day6 sing of a relationship in which one side “gets colder” (becomes less passionate about the romance) while one side “gets hotter”. This is a direct reference to James Clerk Maxwell’s theory of a demon gatekeeper causing imbalance between molecules by opposing interaction, and this forms the basis of the whole album’s concept.

Lyrically, this is most visible in the opening track of the album, “Day and Night”. Filled with stunning ad-libs, harmonies, and Dowoon‘s sweet voice, this is an enjoyable piece that works really well with its lyrics. Using a playful melody which rapidly works its way up and down the scale, and a rhythm that keeps listeners bouncing in their seats, the song acutely conveys the story of between a couple who are like the sun and the moon, unable to ever meet in the middle without one side moving or disappearing. There are traces of desperation, frustration, and confusion here, but they are disguised in this fun and catchy track.

The imbalance continues in “1 to 10”, a song that describes how the protagonist is ready to give all he has for his lover. The all-encompassing way the notes in the chorus are stretched conveys the extent of this love, while the high ad-libs sprinkled throughout the song keep it dynamic and alive. Dowoon’s impressive drumming stands out in this song, as he keeps a steady beat while he continues to experiment with several drumming patterns to suit the different sections of the track. His continual growth as a drummer, musician, and singer has been wonderful to watch, and he is such an instrumental part of each track.

Anger and frustration become more apparent in tracks such as “STOP” and “Love me or Leave me”. The former is an aggressive rock track where Day6 showcases their full glory as a band with their flashy instrumental riffs and more. The background vocals, echoes, and chorus effects used are especially effective in this track as emphases and layers of the melody. While the English title of this track is officially “Stop”, there is an interesting nuance conveyed by the Korean title, “때려쳐”, a phrase that is constantly repeated in the song. It is used between people who have a close relationship, and it means to abruptly give up on or abandon something.

In this case, the protagonist finally tells his partner that he is giving up on the relationship since there is nothing more he can do about it. The lyrics realistically capture how anger can cause a person to reject anything his -lover says, misinterpreting and twisting everything in his head, to the extent that he gets sick of it all and just wants to end things. The varied ways the members sing this phrase throughout the song are interesting to look out for – they are annoyed, fed-up, but also decisive and suave.

“Love me or Leave me” is a whole new ballgame for Day6. While it starts with an acoustic-heavy first verse and Wonpil‘s beautifully wispy voice, it quickly picks up momentum in the chorus. Electronic sounds and EDM beats feature heavily in the instrumentation of this track, making it one of Day6’s most pop-sounding and dance-worthy songs. Silence is also used remarkably here, providing much-needed breaks between choruses and verses where the drastic instrumentation changes occur.

As per the band’s norm of using repeated phrases as their song titles, “Baby, love me or leave me tonight” is a key part of this track, and simply expresses the protagonist’s urgent plea to have closure for this doomed relationship. His lingering feelings and love are clear, hence he is unable to move on until his partner cruelly ends it first. This wishful thinking, that clinging onto the last hope, that reluctance to let go, these are universal feelings that Day6 tap on here even as they create this bop.

Moving from anger to angst, the remaining songs of The Demon present more heartbreaking aspects of broken relationships. “Tick Tock” is about the deafening silence between two people who can no longer share their lives with each other, who can no longer laugh together, and who can no longer communicate. The chords of this song are divine, standing out against minimalistic instrumentation. This song is relatively quiet, which allows the attractive bassline and embellishing electric guitar riffs to really stand out. The drum beats are subtle but also mimic the ticking sound of a clock, especially when the words “tick-tock” are sung. An air of finality overrides this song in a different way than in “Stop”; there is no anger or injustice here, there is just a sad realisation of how broken this relationship is and that it is finally time to call it quits.

“Afraid” drives the knife further into the heart with its throwback to the sun/moon metaphor of “Day and Night”. In this case, however, it is no longer day and night, it is a black sky obscuring the brightness of a shining moon. On the surface, there is no imbalance, as both parties continue to love each other, but deep currents of insecurity lie beneath it all, and the protagonist worries if he can truly bring happiness to his lover.

The you who said the sky was beautiful
Is walking looking only at the ground
It seems as though you’re looking at me
You are like the moon that lights up the black sky
But your light is becoming overshadowed by my darkness

Day6 Leader Sungjin composed and wrote the lyrics for this heartfelt track, and his powerful, raw voice is perfect for this guitar-driven song. Jae also shines in this track, and the way he softly croons “I’m so afraid” after the climactic bridge is just so genuine. The emotional way each member bares their souls and sings in this track just shows how these insecurities are so real to them, and their honesty does wonders to the depth of this track. As always, Day6 skillfully uses their instrumentation and layering to elevate their ballads, and “Afraid” is no exception.

Closing off this album are the Korean and English versions of the album’s title track, “Zombie”. While the other songs can be easily related to broken relationships, “Zombie” turns the spotlight back onto the individual and his meaningless existence. This song cuts deep and was truthfully very painful for me to listen to at first, especially since lyrics like “Am I the only one struggling?” and “Since when have I ended up like this?” voiced thoughts and questions that were all too familiar to me. There is a comfort, however, in knowing that these are emotions we all experience, thoughts we all share and that we are not alone in our hopelessness. The song was composed by Jae, who has recently been releasing many experimental gems as eaJ, while the lyrics, both Korean and English, were written by resident lyricists Young K and Wonpil.

The song’s instrumentation is relatively restrained and is also slightly reminiscent of Western band music. This track reflects mastery in the way the members sing their parts. From the onset, the verses are sung in a detached, intentionally flat, and zombie-like manner, but this emotion gradually builds with the instrumentation as the song progresses. The monotony of the verses is broken by the emotional instrumental breaks scattered through the song and culminates in a bridge where all the pent-up tears are finally released. It is amazing that the members stay consistent with the message of the song even in its small details; for instance, both syllables of the word “zombie” are sung with the same melodic note, which creates a certain flatness in the chorus and embodies a literal lifelessness.

The raised key in the last verse of this song highlights its significance. While the lyrics are exactly the same, the instruments have died down and the tone changes from one of questioning to one of resignation. It is a heart’s cry and a final realisation that he truly has become like a zombie. This ending is bleak, but it is a feeling that everyone can relate to, especially when confronted with the hopelessness of knowing that there are many things we cannot control or change. While this was unplanned, “Zombie” is also a song that is truly apt for this trying period of time.

Both versions of this song have very poignant lyrics, and the efforts taken by Young K and Wonpil to rewrite the song in English rather than directly translate it from Korean have certainly paid off. They have the same general message, but the English version illustrates the concept of a zombie more literally (i.e afraid of the sunlight, “not alive but still walking) while the Korean version is more metaphorical (“a scarecrow without a brain inside”). The lyrics are undoubtedly the highlight of this song, and listeners can certainly feel how true these experiences are for the members themselves.

All in all, this album stays true to its concept, portraying various aspects of broken, imbalanced relationships. Even in these gloomy, realistic depictions, these songs are sources of comfort because of their relatability and are timely reminders that there are people around who can sympathise with the personal demons everyone fights. Here’s to the speedy recovery of Day6, and to their future musical adventures.

(Lyrics via Twitter, Youtube. Images via JYP Entertainment)