With pastel skies as your backdrop you dance as if no one is watching, outlined only by the skyline. The sky begins to grow darker and the night becomes deeper and lonelier, but rather than feeling as if the world is winding down, you seize the opportunity to bask in the veil of darkness, shining from within. That’s what Jeong Sewoon’s 24 Part 2 sounds like, rebellion of loneliness and an embrace of the night.
I am not sure what exactly I expected from his second installment in this album series, but it seems to be the antithesis of 24 Part 1. With the exception of the melancholy final track “Hidden Star” 24 Part 1 paints the picture of a bittersweet, bright, and dreamy love story. Hopeful and cheery conceptually, it is a release that personified summer love like the rise and set of the sun. In contrast, 24 Part 2 encourages listeners to embrace darkness so that we might shine brighter.
The sound and concept of the album is laid back and framed in pastel colors, something I would add to my rainy day or sleepy afternoon dance session playlist. It is calming, uplifting, but not overly positive. 24 Part 1 basked in an effortless simplicity that evoked a feeling of gentle positivity, and 24 Part 2 again showcases subtle beauty, partially driven by Sewoon’s own songwriting prowess. However, rather than the rise and set of the sun, 24 Part 1 begins in pleasant, comfy darkness subverting the often shady, lonely connotations associated with nighttime.
One of my favorite things about Jeong Sewoon’s songwriting is the incredible variety of music he exhibits while still sounding like himself. The overall sound of this album is different from his previous release, but each track manages to sound both unique and sonically connected. The differences are subtle, but distinct, complementing each other well.
The title track “In the Dark” is a chill, inspirational tune that urges us to not worry whilst standing “in the gloom” and that “you will shine” when you enter the dark and the night “grows deeper.” The video is interspersed with images of Sewoon dancing atop a building lit by the purple setting sun as well as dimly lit (or almost completely unlit) shots in seemingly abandoned surroundings. He often doesn’t directly look at the camera, but instead struts or dances away, lost in his own reality. The juxtaposition of the dark, moody imagery and carefree movements highlight the lyrics of the song and the opportunities available only when we embrace not only the light but the darkness as well, realistically and figuratively. It sets the vibe for the rest of the songs on the album.
The music in “In the Dark” is a mix of urban pop driven by melodic electric guitar, doubled octave vocals (the falsetto is especially beautiful), and bouncy rhythmic guitar licks. Like much of his music, the bass is funky and jazzy but without sticking out from the overall mix. The subtle grooviness of the instrumentals and Sewoon’s vocals complement the MV and message of the song nicely. One of the most interesting musical moments is the “when you’re in the dark la la” that repeats in the chorus. Leaving the chorus opened ended, the lyrics suggest frivolity that can be found in night activity, subverting a dark, calm personification of the night in his previous album with “Hidden Star.”
Most similar to “In the Dark” on the album is the song “:m (Mind).” The title is interesting and vague with an upbeat, pop-centric feel. The song starts with a “How are you? I’m fine,” and sounds like a playful conversation between Sewoon and the listener. The sound of the track itself is fairly standard pop form in common time with a funky bassline. The background sampling however is fun and ear-catching. If one listens closely, they can hear whistling, siren-esque whoops, and even the sound of a drink being opened. Playful, tongue-in-cheek, and catchy, this song is like a wink put into sound.
The songs “Fine” and “Find you” are the vibey, EDM-esque, sensual songs that beckon the listener to follow Sewoon into the dark. Both of them sound fairly similar, especially in the mixing of the verses. Both of the choruses are however catchy and fun independently. “Fine” is more sensual and sultrier, while “Find you” is more carefree featuring more prominent acoustic mixing in the chorus. In addition to the earworm choruses of each song, one of the most interesting additions musically is the guitar part in “Fine.” The beat is funk-inspired and the trades off being in the forefront of the mix with Sewoon’s vocals. The call and response give the chorus a playful, teasing sound like two voices flirting with each other.
Like a mirror of part 1’s “O”, “DoDoDo” is a jazzy, bluesy, vintage ballad. Complete with organ sounds and a lilting drum set part, the song feels like a gentle waltz, like the lyrics suggest. “Can we just dance” are prominent lyrics, and the beat makes the listener want to do just that. There is no MV that accompanies this song, but instead Sewoon utilizes text painting of “dancing with the moon” and “dancing with the flowers” to accompany the music.
Musically “DoDoDo” is one of the most unique songs on the album. Not only is the mix jazzy and the drum set part evocative, but the piece is actually also in triple time (it sounds like 6/8 time to me for all the music theory nerds out there.) There is a clear 1-2-3, 1-2-3 in Sewoon’s vocals and kick drum in the drum set tracking if you listen closely enough. The chords of the synthesizer and organ sounds also change every three beats as well. The organ-esque synthesizer adds a nice timbre to the sound, layering fun chord voicings with minimalist color riffs in the right-hand. The little fills at the end of the phrases round out the piece effectively, giving it even more jazz flair.
The final track of the album “Be a Fool” is a straight forward and breathtaking ballad, just like 24 Part 1’s “Hidden Star.” Returning to the calm stillness evoked in darkness, “Be a Fool” is soothing, simple, and catchy. It is driven mainly by a simple brush drum set part, piano backing, and Sewoon’s low, effortless vocals. With the whole album exploring what night might sound like sonically, it feels fitting to end with this simply beautiful ballad. Claiming he would be a fool for the listener, the soulful vocals are allowed to shine through.
Jeong Sewoon’s 24 Part 2 picks up where his previous album 24 Part 1 left off, exploring night vibes rather than dynamics of the daytime sun. Soulful and playful, Sewoon subverts darkness into opportunity, flirting, and good vibes rather than mystery and sensual normally evoked when one thinks of being taken by the night. Continuing to show his vocal and songwriting prowess, 24 Part 2 remains engaging and sonically unique from beginning to end. I for one will be adding it to my rainy-day playlist for the foreseeable future.