Five years after their debut, Day6 has their first unit comeback with the youngest members – Young K, Wonpil, and Dowoon. The unit is officially called Even of Day, though fans affectionately refer to them as KangWonDo. Since the release of The Book of Us: The Demon, the eldest members Sungjin and Jae have been taking a break to recover. Fans were not expecting a comeback anytime soon (or at least, I wasn’t), and assumed that this would be a period of peace and quiet.

However, the youngest members took it upon themselves to produce content for the fans, with Wonpil and Young K posting covers on the official Day6 YouTube channel, and Dowoon sharing bits and pieces of his life on Instagram. They surprised fans even more when they officially announced Even of Day, and the fourth instalment to The Book of Us series, with The Book of Us: Gluon.

I am not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical about this comeback; I was unsure as to how the group’s sound would be like, considering the fact that the unit only consisted of a bassist, a pianist and a drummer. Yet, upon listening to the entirety of Gluon, I was absolutely blown away. The album essentially takes the listener on an adventure through space, allowing the listener to admire the beauty of each planet and star. This theme of a space adventure is immediately established in the first track, “Landing”, an instrumental track with the occasional vocalisation from the new members of Day6, Denimalz3. I’m joking, there are no new members of Day6, the Denimalz are just mascots representing a member of the band.

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this excited listening to an intro to an album. With the mechanical voice preparing me for the landing sequence, I suddenly imagined myself in an actual spaceship, excited for what’s to come. Story-based albums, or at least albums with a consistent theme, always get into my good books — Ateez‘s Treasure series, for example.

It feels refreshing to be a part of an artist’s journey, and explore this new world with them. In a way, it becomes quite an intimate experience. The space adventure is prevalent throughout the entire album, and the sequence of the songs in the track list allows the listener to go on a proper journey with its own ups and downs.

The track that follows “Landing” is “Landed”, and it marks the first planet you begin your journey with. It is fun, upbeat and hopeful, which is unlike most of Day6’s discography (no shade intended, but they do have a lot of sad songs). From this track alone, the band overcame the difficulty of the lack of guitar by incorporating more synths, creating a more electronic sound.

Despite it being more electronic, Gluon does not fall into the trap of having its songs sound similar, but instead each track has its own distinct flavour that separates itself from the rest. At the same time, the electronic sound also ties all the tracks together to form one cohesive whole, and there is never a jarring transition between each track, providing a seamless listening experience for listeners.

Wandering around
Without a place to call home
Seems like the end of those days is near

Following “Landed” is the first interlude titled “Ocean”, where we hear one of the Denimalz say, “What a beautiful day.” The interlude provides a sense of serenity, and the image of the beach as the sun sets comes to mind as we hear the melody being whistled, accompanied by drums in the background. The track is hazy and dreamy, enabling listeners to go into a state of bliss, but also implying that there are unexpected things to come in their lyrics.

Always changing
Sometimes hurting
Unexpected feeling
That’s love

As the track ends, we hear the Denimalz yell “No!”, and it transitions quickly to the next track, “Where the sea sleeps”. The opening of “Where the sea sleeps” feels as if you are suddenly submerged in water, and if you felt grounded in the previous tracks, this one recreates the sensation of floating around aimlessly, or at least struggling to stay afloat during a period of uncertainty. It’s interesting how the track continues to keep up with this blissful dreamlike atmosphere while simultaneously making me feel like I’m completely lost.

The bridge of “Where the sea sleeps” is most definitely the track’s highlight, where the music swells and both Young K and Wonpil belt out the lyrics, “So stay with me”. Young K has always had amazing vocals: he’s an extremely diverse singer with an impeccable vocal range, but what really made him shine in “Where the sea sleeps” was how pure and clear his voice was.

On the other hand, Wonpil’s voice leans towards the nasally side, but it is so filled with emotion that you can’t help but want to cry when you hear his voice. Of course, out of all the tracks, “Where the sea sleeps” is essentially the most emotionally charged track, especially when it is a love letter from the youngest members to the eldests, reminding the eldest members that they will continue to be together and carry on this journey as five.

The second interlude, “Forest”, is reminiscent of an adventure-based video game, and I could picture my sprites running around in a small town helping non-playable characters with their quests. “Forest” acts as a reminder that even though we may experience hardship, there are still many more beautiful and exciting adventures out there waiting to happen, and that our journey is not over yet. The line “Let’s go back to the ship” indicates that there is more to see and explore.

Lastly, the final two tracks, “Thanks to” and “To Be Continued”, are perfect for rounding up the group’s journey thus far. “Thanks to” is a sentimental track, ending this first part of the journey with finality. The lyrics seem to be directed to Day6’s fans, but part of me likes to think that it’s the youngest members’ way of expressing their appreciation for Sungjin and Jae.

On the other hand, “To Be Continued” is fresh and exciting, acting like the credits song for a cartoon, but also implying that there are new things to come in the future. Out of the four Denimalz3 tracks, I would say that “To Be Continued” is my favourite, simply because it has such a fun and funky energy that motivates you to push on. It also reminds me a lot of Dexter’s Laboratory, for some reason, and it is most definitely a sound that I would like to hear more in Kpop.

Gluon is deeply personal and exclusive, in the sense where only fans would understand the messages and intentions behind the tracks and the theme of the album. This album holds a special place in my heart, and I realised that it was because I understood that this album is essentially the youngest members showing support for Sungjin and Jae, and this album represents the love and appreciation they have towards each other.

On the surface, the tracks in Gluon are great — if you enjoy ballads with romantic lyrics, this is generally a very good album. The intro, interludes and outro provide listeners with a little palate cleanser before moving on to the next ballad, and it introduces a new sound for the group as a whole.

However, it can not be denied that what makes Gluon so special is its sentiment and what it represents. The album’s full name is The Book of Us: Gluon – Nothing Can Tear Us Apart, which is an indicator that the youngest members are reassuring the older members and fans that Day6 will continue to remain together, and that this is only a small hurdle they need to clear. It is in the little things that are easily picked up by fans which makes the experience of listening to Gluon more enriching, just like how the MV for “Where the sea sleeps” means so much more for fans as opposed to outsiders.

Overall, Gluon is a good album. There are three solid ballads and four experimental electronic tracks. The little adventure Even of Day takes us on is fun and thrilling, and I look forward to continuing this adventure with them.

(YouTube [1] [2]; Images and Lyrics via JYP Entertainment)