When Day6 started The Book of Us (TBOS) series in early 2019, the world was a different place. Since then, a life-shifting global pandemic hit, two of their members have had to take a hiatus to focus on their mental health, and suddenly, the inevitable enlistments roll by for the members.

The series express the spectrum of human emotions through themes that revolve around physics and chemistry concepts — Gravity explored euphoria, Entropy explored disorder, Demon explored imbalance while Gluon explored cohesion. Finally, four albums later, Day6 wrap up the series with Negentropy – Chaos swallowed up in love, and the members once again play a large role in the composition and lyric-making process. Just like in Gluon, references to the sea play a significant part in the MV and the tracks, alluding to the boundless and limitless nature of the world they have created with their music.

Negentropy is reverse entropy, where things become less random and more intentional and in order. Both in a musical and symbolic sense, the album adheres to this. One of the band’s greatest strengths is their ability to relay the complicated nature and ambivalence of human emotion, and they continue to deliver this strongly here, albeit in a subdued way. On first listen, this album is less immediately memorable and impactful than its predecessors, likely because the tracks are less reliant on hooks. Instead, the selection and sequence of songs are curated meaningfully, to build a calming yet bittersweet storytelling experience for listeners.

The album starts off with the mid-tempo track “everyday we fight”. Its opening line echoes the song’s title: listeners are made to feel like they were invited to listen in the midst of the action. In the song, Day6 sings about the fine line between love and hate, capturing the nuances of contrasting yet complementary emotions. Love is portrayed as an exciting rush and a tiring battle, and the lyrics capture the tumultuousness and inevitability of love conquering all.

Love each other, unaffected honesty
There’s no other, everything we share
Make you have no choice but to love

The track does not deviate far from the band’s existing signature sound, and its melodic progression to a grand, heart-wrenching chorus will be familiar for Day6 listeners. In a way, the track starts off from the previous parts of TBOS series left off, before Day6 mark a fresh start in this album with “You Make Me”.

Day6 teased a fresh sound and a hopeful message with this title track, and delivered on its promise. The three younger members experimented with a stronger electronic sound in Gluon, and the song finds a harmonious way to blend those new musical ventures with the now-complete band. The result is a sophisticated homecoming to Day6’s debut days where synthesizers featured more strongly.

Sans the singalong chant to the track’s title, the song noticeably relies less on hooks, making for a less immediately catchy tune to some earlier title tracks. The track places its focus on the member’s vocals and its lyrics. “Zombie“, the band’s last group effort, painted a bleak picture, touching on the feelings of despair as the days drag on. Dullness is the central force that drives the song’s lyrics and melody, and “You Make Me” provides a comforting yet realistic contrast.

Expressing love as an empowering and invigorating force, the track evokes a sense of renewed strength and hope. Happiness is not a one-note emotion, and Day6 captures the ambivalent nuances of a happy ending in the song, retaining bittersweet sentiments of longing amid its positive message. Wonpil’s distinctive and emotive voice carries many of Day6’s saddest lyrics, but he is highlighted here for maximum opposite effect, echoing the song’s bright and piercing message that demands to be heard.

Don’t let go
Cause to me you are
My last ray of hope
My one and only shining light

Follow-up track “Healer” is the album at its most uplifting. Transcending language barriers for listeners, the band sings about finding comfort and happiness in someone, even through weary and painful days. Mandatory singalong bridges are an age-old cliche, but it is an expected touch that is satisfying executed here. The track’s gradual build-up of synthetic strings fuels its infectious energy, and the song’s heart and soul lie in its pulsating quality and dynamic rhythm. Day6 take listeners through a journey of allowing love to conquer pain, the song’s atmospheric nostalgia makes “Healer” a perfect addition to a live concert setting. This is that nostalgic coming-of-age song, but with a Day6 twist to it.

The album slows down with the laidback “Only”, which sings about a faithful and sincere love. The combination of instrumentation and the song’s harmonies give it an old-school vibe, like that of a sweet serenade and gift. Its breeziness and calming quality complements the reassured loyalty of the lyrics, and as the song fades to a close, listeners feel that they are moving close to a warm and easy kind of love.

Day6 have said that they draw on personal experiences and stories to write their music, and Jae wrote “above the clouds” as a homage to a late friend. Centred around the earnest and sincere wish for someone to “Smile and don’t get sick anymore. Be happy above the clouds”, this is the closest to a tearjerker as the album gets. Even then, the emotions around grieving over loss is not portrayed as one-note. Instead, Day6 express the complex realities behind it — the progress of healing is seldom linear, but people feel and understand their past memories differently each time they resurface. 

Although the song’s lyrics stand out because of their simplicity and effectiveness, its greatest merit lies in its instrumentation. Opening with sounds of gentle waves crashing and an acoustic guitar, listeners paint an idyllic and calming scene, all before the downward thumping of the drums and an ascending melody lines are introduced, both of which simultaneously gives the song a sense of elevation and a weighted grandeur.

“One” kicks off with a striking and strong synth line that features prominently through the track. Musically, the track sounds like an outlier on the album, but “One” quickly reveals itself as being still driven by the same emotional weight of the rest of the album. Interestingly, the members’ individual’s vocals is forward in the mix, as many of their other tracks, and the song’s dynamic synth line gets plenty of shine here. Right down to the lyrics, this is a track that was written to be sung to a crowd at a concert. The echoey quality of the final product emulates a live performance setting where countless voices are unified as one, singing along to the track’s bittersweet and punchy top-line at the top of their lungs.

Any ending
It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s you and me
No matter how rough the road is
Nothing can hurt a single thing

‘Cause we are one
Invincible that never breaks
Unless we let go of our hands, we are invincible

TBOS’ opening track “For me” urges listeners to look within to understand, appreciate and love themselves. The series’ closing song  “so let’s love” thus showcases a progression to an outward outlook on love. Day6 have looked in, and now they can finally take the next step to look out, to fight for and hold on tight to the love they share with others. In spite of it all, Day6 are picking up the pieces to bravely love again.

I’m not enough
I can be completed only with you
With a trembling heart
You know me

Please hold onto my anxious heart
I want your love, please love me
That’s all I want
So let’s love more in the future

Lyrically and musically, the song’s central message is the longing and greed for more, be it for feelings of completion or adequacy. Day6’s vocal delivery here is excellent, and they bring to life the emotions of the lyrics conveyed with a mixture of unfaltering passion and gentle vulnerability. The song does not end on a resolved note, leaving a lingering trace of the past behind. Rather than putting a full stop on the page, the song ends with an ellipsis of sorts, suggesting that it is not a definite end, but that the next chapter might not yet be written.

With leader and guitarist Sungjin having since enlisted in the military after completing the album and the other members soon to follow, the future is uncertain for Day6, who will see their contracts with JYP Entertainment end in the next year or two. This album is thus not only the finale to what has been an incredible musical journey for listeners, but is an important milestone in the band’s long-term career.

Rather than a grand temporary farewell, Negentropy is a subdued and understated effort that comes with its unique set of merits. It is thoughtfully put together; it is heartfelt and it is intentional. As listeners live through their tumultuous and unpredictable lives, this album will likely act as a comforting reminder that love will carry you forward. It may come in ways that you least expect, but there is beauty in chaos and order in imperfections. You are exactly where you need to be.

(Sources: Lexico, YouTube [1] [2] [3], Images and lyrics via JYP Entertainment)