E’last, formerly EBoyz, debuted with a time-bending fantasy concept in the mini-album Day Dream on June 9, 2020 under E Entertainment. With a cinematic, balladic sound concept, this album stands out from most artists right now, especially given the season and comebacks as of late. The album finds the members daydreaming about a love that they can’t seem to reach, going so far as to swear oaths and turn back time, not surprising given their group name (a play on the word “everlasting”). The instrumentation of the album is incredibly string heavy and ethereal, featuring five songs: “Intro.,” “Swear,” “Sunrise,” “My Flower,” and “Light.”
With more artists giving into the poppy, summer vibes often associated with the change of season, not to mention amidst many countries beginning to reopen and roll back social distancing restrictions, E’last’s subtle, ethereal track list hits differently. The opening track “Intro.” begins with an almost cinematic feel, with a repetitive piano introduction leading into a thick orchestral interlude. One lone cello emerges from the texture before dissolving into the sound of entire sections of recorded strings and brass.
This short introductory track ends rather suddenly without a true resolution, leaving the song feeling unfinished and the shifting, morphing melody of an orchestra creates a floating, dream-like feel that foreshadows the theme of later tracks. The tune almost mimics blossoming, with sounds and textures bubbling up before sinking back to the sound of another. Shifting and ethereal, the track seems like it could be more suited for spring rather than summer. However, this soundscape does make it stand out, especially for a debut rather than a comeback.
The introduction of the title track “Swear” (or “A Knight’s Vow” in its literal translation), begins with the same melody heard from the cello solo in “Intro.” This makes the two tracks feel like they are bleeding into one another. However, the bass heavy drum set that accompanies this song feels a bit more angsty, building intensity contrasting the same cinematic strings backing it. Rather than sounding like a plucked violin, it could be a Korean gayageum, a popular traditional string instrument, adding an alluring and unique color to the instrumentation. A MV accompanies this track, with time as a recurring theme throughout.
Imagery in the MV is a mix of antique furniture, overgrown vines, and fresh wildflowers, highlighting a juxtaposition between old and new as well as light and dark. An image of what seems to be a clock and an hourglass are key in the storytelling of a longing for someone they reacheable only in their thoughts. By the end of the video, the broken hourglass is overturned and time is reversed, resulting in a pleading climax. The vocal layering in this latter part of the song highlights the desperation and urgency of the members as they dance aggressively in a dark, flooded room. The song ends rather suddenly after the climax, and a lone solo piano plays the resolving chord. The track fits into the rest of the album well. As opposed to a sweet, dreamy love story, there is an underlying desperation, conviction, and darkness.
“Sunrise,” the third track, is lighter with a more pop-centric sound. Repeated lyrics of “you are my sunrise” describe a joyful love story one would daydream about experiencing with their crush. The string instrumentals are mostly left behind for this track and are replaced with piano accompaniment and simple acoustic sound sampling, consisting of mostly snaps and a subtle drum set tracking. The vocals are traded off frequently with breathtaking unison verses sprinkled with nuanced vocal ad libs. The song is overall soft, like speaking of a love that has yet to begin, but is kept upbeat and happy. This combination is a little bit of a left turn from the previous tracks, but fits in with the overall concept that evolves with each track.
The next track, “My Flower” also seems like a love song, but rather than a more pop-centric, upbeat dream, this track is a wistful ballad with thick, evocative harmonies between the members rather than predominantly unison or solo lines. The strings are resurrected, making the song feel a bit melancholier rather than fun and light-hearted like the previous ones. The members’ voices are simultaneously soothing and enchanting, demonstrating some intense vocal prowess. Strings are used throughout this tune to ramp up the energy along with an electric guitar that is prevalent alongside the vocals. Solo piano lines and string passages bookend transitions and provide a very definite resolution at the end of the song, making it incredibly satisfying to listen to. This track is soft, wistful, and maybe even a little lonely-sounding. It is a ballad through and through, but stays consistent with the overall concept sounds introduced in the very first track.
“Light,” the last track of the album, is a fun acoustic track that flirts with equally fun altered harmonies. Mixed, minor-sounding chords create some spice to a more driving, forward track. The music backing the vocals has a faster tempo, more electric guitar and heavy drum set, and repeated “na na na”s in the chorus. The chorus is infectious and fun, capping the ending of this album with more of a summer, uplifting feel. If we’ve truly turned back time to re-experience a lost spring, we’ve found our way back to summer vibes and sunshine. The repetitive vocal hook mixed with the thicker rock-centric texture make this track stand out from the rest. This song is more forward and driving, and the instrumentation is vastly different.
The overall texture and timbre of each track evolves gradually from start to finish from a more classical, string forward sound, to lighter pop styling. With summer beginning and many groups lately taking on more mature, sexy concepts, E’last’s balladic sound stands out from the crowd. With this album, they have given us a chance to experience the sounds of spring and summer all over again, a second chance that the world may sorely need. Not only are the group’s visuals great, but their graceful dancing and evocative vocal harmonies showcase maturity and a readiness for the subtleties of a variety of musical styles. The differences between the tracks in Day Dream are subtle, while musically cohesive from start to finish. With the group starting with a softer, ethereal sound, only time will tell how the group sound will evolve; thankfully this is only the beginning of an (ever)lasting journey.
(YouTube. Images via E Entertainment)