As the members of N.Flying get ready for their mandatory enlistment, they’ve dropped one final album for their fans, titled Dearest. One may think Dearest would be a sentimental album filled with sad rock ballads just from the title of the album alone, but Dearest is filled with fun bops for fans to remember them by, even if the lyrics are somewhat bittersweet. Despite this, it is unfortunate that most of the songs on this album are pretty average, and that they just need a little push in order to reach their full potential.

Each song has their own unique flavour, but there’s just something that stops them from being great songs. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I’m comparing it to their 2017-2018 releases – which is unfair, especially since bands will inevitably grow and move on to other types of music – but ultimately the tracks on Dearest simply do not have the same impact as “The Real” and “Hot Potato”. In fact, it feels as if it has been awhile since we’ve gotten that energy from N.Flying.

Maybe it’s due to the struggles they faced while adapting to the departure of their bassist, Kwon Kwangjin, and the entrance of their new bassist, Seo Dongsung, that has left the band unable to find their sound again. N.Flying’s new tracks are anything but bland, yet they continue to fail to provide that little unique twist that made their previous songs so memorable. However, criticisms aside, Dearest still makes for a fun listening experience with six solid tracks, and it will most likely leave you grooving along to the catchy beats and undeniably playful energy that permeates throughout the album.

Dearest opens with their title track, “I Like You”, which tells the story of a man who is trying his best to forget about a past lover, but is unable to free himself from her memory. In spite of the sad lyrics, the melody is still considerably upbeat, almost as if the man is attempting to have as much fun as possible to forget about her, but ultimately spiraling into madness instead.

I’m screwed. I’ve reined it in perfectly until now.

But why did you have to show up all of a sudden?

The inner fire extinguished is blazing again.

It’s gonna explode. I can’t control it.

“I Like You” is immediately followed by “The Night” and “Firefly”, songs that are in the minor key, hence providing a more melancholic atmosphere. Despite this, the songs are still relatively upbeat, keeping up with the energy as expressed by “I Like You”. Both tracks reminisce about a time where they were still with their lovers, still feeling uncertain about where they would go after they parted ways.

However, it is unfortunate that both songs blend together as there is nothing to really distinguish between the two. Sure, “Firefly” uses a slower tempo, but the overall mood and atmosphere is similar to “The Night”. Maybe it was also because the two songs were placed one after the other on the track list that somewhat soured the listening experience for both songs, leaving them indistinguishable and bland.

We return to a happier melody with “1”, bearing similar vibes to “I Like You”, where sad lyrics are accompanied by upbeat melodies that keep the listener grooving. By this point, the album feels disappointing: the past four tracks have been similar in terms of theme and execution, with the exception of using either a major or minor key. The songs on their own are great, but when put together, it feels stagnant, and we are constantly left wondering when they would change it up.

Of course, every artist has a theme and a genre of music that they tend to stick to because that is what they are best at, but the first four songs of Dearest feel lackluster, and perhaps even uninspired. It becomes even more disappointing when you realise that you are already halfway through the album, and have yet to hear anything different besides upbeat tempo contrasted with sad lyrics.

Dearest finally breaks out of that rut with “Monster”, drawing influences from the hard rock genre. “Monster” feels like a breath of fresh air after hearing four similar songs, and it easily becomes the highlight of the entire album. It’s funky, different, and fresh, and more importantly, it seems to encapsulate N.Flying’s fun and easygoing energy as displayed in previous tracks like “The Real” and “Hot Potato”. Hweseung’s vocals are also well showcased in “Monster”, allowing him to go above and beyond by hitting high notes that the listener may have been waiting for this entire time. It’s a song that definitely leaves a deep impression, and its highly infectious energy just draws you back in.

To finish the album, we have “Shooting Star”. Typically, the last song in the last album before an artist enlists is one that has a bittersweet tone to it, and “Shooting Star” does have that tone, but it still feels optimistic, fun, and soulful. Out of all the bittersweet songs on this album, “Shooting Star” most definitely nails the emotion behind it. It feels raw and genuine, and ends Dearest on a high.

N.Flying’s Dearest is overall a solid album, and there is nothing bad about any of the tracks. It is just disappointing that when put together, the album feels bland until the end. As much as I enjoy N.Flying’s music as well as the playful energy that they insert into each of their songs, something about Dearest misses the mark for me. Despite this, we hope that N.Flying takes care as they prepare for enlistment, and we’ll be waiting patiently for them to return as five again.

Youtube; Images and Lyrics via FNC Entertainment