After the release of their whopping 15-track album Childhood, Lucy returns six months later with a delightful capsule collection in the form of Insert Coin. Interestingly, the album presents the band’s two sides of the same coin (pun intended)—light and happy on one side, dark and angsty on the other.

Since the mini-album is entitled Insert Coin, it is no surprise that the aesthetics and the music revolve around gaming. The title track, “Unbelievable,” cleverly borrows from various game references, from Role Playing Games (RPGs) to Doki Doki Literature Club (an otome game). Seeing the members embodying their characters in the game is fun, hilarious, and borderline cringe. (Try guessing all the featured games yourself!)

Like many of Lucy’s songs, “Unbelievable” sounds perfect as an opening sequence to an animé. The song is light on its feet, with Cho Wonsang’s intricate bass playing carrying the weight of the song for almost four minutes. Integrating game sounds makes the song even more enjoyable to listen to.  

While the English title of the song is Unbelievable, the direct Korean translation goes No But Really. Lucy sings as lovestruck heroes who assure their lover of their beauty and that they are “the dazzling sunshine that breaks my dawn.”

Seriously, you are beautiful

Like the dazzling sunshine that breaks my dawn

Seriously, you are the only one

Who doesn’t know the whole world is in love with you

You’re so silly

The lyrics are romantic and cheesy (Please do not ever go to the flower garden / It might be confusing, I have no idea which one is you), yet when tied to the music video, the song hits differently.

At the beginning of the music video, Choi Sangyeop wakes up feeling defeated and discouraged. A blue puppy puppet named Walwal-E appears before him and tells Sangyeop that he feels weak because half of his heart is gone. Together, they embark on a quest, meet some trusty companions along the way, and face off against the formidable boss of the game—himself.

In life, there will always be difficulties and challenges. Many are caused by external factors, but the greatest battles we often face are those we fight against ourselves. “Tied Up” describes a person’s inner turmoil of frustration and care, masked in the context of a lovers’ quarrel. Lucy and their lover are in a heated argument that they sing they are too busy for. They are reaching a boiling point, but a part of them also wants to give their lover a hug.

The 8-bit game sound continues in “Tied Up,” along with some interesting voice changes. Instead of usually singing the post-chorus, Sangyeop sings in a squeaky muffled voice, almost mimicking how someone sounds bad over the phone due to poor reception.

“Never in Vain” stands out as the band’s first full English song, with some help from fellow Superband alumni Isaac Hong and Hwang Minjae on the lyrics. Lucy plunges into darkness, overwhelmed by the battle raging inside of them. They distance themselves from their lover but promise to return better and stronger, for their “love was never in vain.”

You hit me with the FaceTime

It’s hard to even say hello

Probably you felt alone, I made you insecure

You know, I’m gonna be on your side

When all of this fight’s over

When you down and when we fall

You know, I won’t let you go

“Insert Coin” closes with “Fill It Up,” which hints that the journey of our main characters isn’t over. Lucy remain stuck in a vortex, struggling to move forward and chasing what was left behind. It’s the itch to answer “What if?” and the uncertainty if we have made the right choice. Then, Sangyeop explodes in the chorus and asks, “They can’t make you feel better / Who said your trip was an error?” Make the most out of your current journey toward your dream.

While Lucy’s songs have always dealt with the troubles of growing up and adulthood, the mini-album shares a glimpse of a raw and real side of Lucy’s music that we often don’t hear from them. “Never in Vain” begins with a haunting piano melody that gradually builds and then suddenly drops during the chorus. The song could pass off as a pirate theme, setting up its listeners for a high-sea adventure. Shin Gwangil’s drumming creates momentum until we reach the apex: Shin Yechan’s explosive solo violin performance. It just seems that “Never in Vain” was composed with Yechan’s violin in mind, an aspect that was becoming less prominent in many of Lucy’s recent title tracks.

“Fill It Up,” on the other hand, is Lucy’s foray into a more futuristic sound with high-tempo beats and blaring synths. Sangyeop almost sings mostly in autotune, while Yechan’s violin sounds practically nonexistent. (Probably, if no one knew that “Fill It Up” is from a band, they would mistakenly think it’s from an idol group.) It’s exciting as it takes listeners on a time travel adventure.

Musically speaking, Insert Coin is a prelude to the group’s exciting journey in experimentation without losing their signature charm. The band’s lyrics are always relatable, which means for this album, we are the game’s main characters, and the enemy is ourselves. It’s not yet “game over,” as Insert Coin seems to mark a beginning of a new series of albums from the talented band and their ongoing quest to victory against their inner demons.

(YouTube. Lyrics by Genius. Images by Mystic Entertainment)