Ever since ending their hiatus at the end of last year, The Rose have thrown themselves back into the creative whirlwind and show no signs of slowing down. Promoting their upcoming album Dual, the second release after their comeback, the band presents two new, hyper-charged rock tracks. With “Back to Me” and “Alive”, the band bring pure rock energy in the peak of summer heat. Experimenting with classic rock, grunge, and pop, they show off their biggest advantage as a band – their unique, endlessly stimulating sound. The two releases perfectly reflect the two sides of The Rose, who exist in between an indie rock band and a K-Pop group.

The first single, “Back to Me,” is an old-school rocker anthem. The heavy, guitar-focused sound of this heartbreak track gets a fresh edge thanks to its honest, catchy lyrics. The Rose show off their incredible storytelling as they delve into a poignant narrative of heartbreak and self-reflection:

Called me all day but I never pick up
Instead of pulling my weight, always pushing my luck

Using honest and straightforward lyrics, the band capture the raw emotions of a person full of regrets over mishandling a relationship. The protagonist is painfully self-aware of their own shortcomings, which ultimately led their lover to leave. The catchy hook makes the listeners wanna scream their lungs out. With soul-tearing vocals, Woosung sings about accepting the blame for destroying the relationship, singing “I keep making the same mistakes, maybe I never deserved you anyway.”

Vocalists Woosung and Dojoon take turns singing their bitter sorrows away with strikingly powerful vocals. The song’s yearning mood is established right from the start, as we hear Woosung deliver the soul-tearing chorus in his raspy voice. All the members give the performance their all, jumping and screaming their lungs out, showcasing the band’s incredible powerhouse energy. The instrumentation, similar to the MV itself, is simple but effective. Prominent drums spell out the heavy rhythm, and combined with the simple melody and effective storytelling, they make for a perfectly grunge heartbreak anthem.

In terms of visuals, the MV is far from being groundbreaking. Echoing classic rock bands of the 90s, it is based on a simple concept. The members, dressed in grunge clothes, sing and play their rocker hearts out in the two classic-for-a-rock-band locations – a garage and on the street. The simple locations and mismatched clothes bring to mind The Rose’s beginnings as a rookie indie band. Embracing their independent, low budget roots paired with pro-level sound gives their music a unique edge. To make up for lack of variety in terms of set design, the dynamic camera movements virtually don’t stop. This only adds to the sense of excitement and energy that “Back to Me” is seeping with. The camera lens captures The Rose in a blurry and dynamic manner, adding to the overall intensity of their performance.

The MV for the second single, “Alive,” is just as charged with edginess and emotion, but is a darker, more mature take. The Rose offer a high-concept, dynamic MV, elevating the visual experience beyond “Back to Me.” The MV opens with the members posed on an abstract, black marble construction. The musicians are adorned in black, elegant outfits – a more refined and dressed-up appearance compared to the casual style in “Back to Me.” They’re fitted both for a rock concert and a funeral, a playful take on the songs title and theme of feeling alive.

This monochromatic MV sees a very high level of effort put into the production and visuals, from the changing and abstract sets, to dynamic visuals of a guitar in a rose-filled coffin. With its focused camera movements and more static choreography, “Alive” shows a mature rock band enjoying their success. The MV concludes with a hazy lens effect, presenting the band’s sparkling outfits with a vintage vibe and further emphasizing their cool maturity. With the members’ elegant attire and high-budget visuals, “Alive” is set apart from the more casual “Back to Me”.

Musically, “Alive” is another solid, guitar-focused rock anthem with a darker feel to it. Beginning with a subdued bridge, it brings the sense of an enigma to the listener’s ear. Woosung’s vocals during this section are delivered in a flat and serious manner, setting the listeners up for a more serious track. The slightly distorted vocals on the bridge add even more gravity to the song. However, that is not to say that “Alive” is a melancholic song. The track transitions into a pop-rock, bright chorus, which serves as a dynamic contrast to the earlier subdued elements. Dojoon’s vocals burst with energy as he sings about letting go of the past mistakes and bravely facing the future:

Don’t know where I’m going, I’m not even scared
Baby, I’m alive, and now I’m falling from the sky

The electrifying edginess of “Alive” does indeed bring the listeners back to life with its unstoppable, pure rock energy. The pop-rock instrumentation adds an infectious and uplifting quality to the music, creating a sense of euphoria stemming from letting go. Even though they are dressed for a funeral, it’s only the funeral of their suffering and heartache – they have moved past it and are alive again, ready to enjoy themselves.

The MV sees the band members fully embrace their rocker personas. Woosung sings seductively to the microphone, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, while Jaehyeong nonchalantly performs intense riffs on the bass guitar. Culminating in an explosive chorus, “Alive” is a perfect edgy, energetic rock song.

With “Back to Me” and “Alive”, The Rose deliver two different tracks and MVs — one pure grudge, the other elevated, classy rock. They execute both perfectly, embodying the different rock energies.

In recent interviews, the band mention that songs on Dual will fall into two categories: the upbeat “dusk” and darker, mature sounding “dawn.”  Based on these two releases, the listeners can expect dusk songs to be energizing scream-along anthems like “Back to Me”, while dawn releases will probably be as dark and mysterious as “Alive.” Also based on the songs, both types will be equally edgy and cathartic.

The MVs for “Back to Me” and “Alive are simple but effective and they compliment each other well. As a set, they showcase the upcoming album’s themes well, and they give a good taste of the music to come. Once again, the Rose’s incredible energy shows that at their heart, they truly are a rock band.

(Rolling Stone, YouTube. Images via Transparent Arts.)