Freshly discharged from the military, Day6’s bassist, Young K, returns with his second solo album, Letters With Notes. Featuring Twice’s Dahyun in the MV of his title track, “Nothing But”, is a “tearful story of consolation for people unwilling to let go of their loved ones, even when they see that the other person’s love is withering”.

Young K is a perfect storyteller as a well-known lyricist with over 100 songs credited under his name. On its own, the lyrics of “Nothing But” are straightforward yet they perfectly capture the pains of a distancing relationship, where Young K is hesitant to end the relationship, while Dahyun feels otherwise.

Actually, I was feeling the beginning of parting

It became closer, the irreversible end

Facing our last is an awful thing to do

In turn, listeners are privy to his inner workings as Young K expands on the varied emotions left in the remaining time of their fleeting relationship. And thanks to his strength in lyricism, “Nothing But” features moments of hesitation (“Let’s not do this, I’ve tried to hold out”), love and concern (“To bring shame to the words “I’ll hold you until the end, you are sobbing in my arms”), and even self-sacrifice (“If we’re not compatible, I’ll make myself fit”).

Interestingly, to salvage his relationship, Young K conveys his desperate attempts at redemption by offering a degree of self-sacrifice. 

If we’re not compatible

I’ll make myself fit

If something’s missing, I’ll fill it in

Maybе no words can change you right now

 He tries his hardest to make it work till the very end, admitting that he has “nothing but this love that’s vanishing”. At the same time, this line exposes his emotional investment in the relationship, having given his all to Dahyun. For Dahyun, though, the opposite is true: It is too late. Moreover, as seen visually, it becomes more gut-wrenching, as this verse sharply contrasts Dahyun’s callous disregard towards his last-ditch efforts.

What’s equally impressive is the ability to convey these feelings visually to accompany Young K’s simple lyrics. While the MV is far from cinematic, “Nothing But” successfully portrays the spirit of a vanishing love by leveraging on symbolism and motif. Specifically, with Dahyun’s ring, and the recurring presence of water, in both its liquid and solid form, to express his regret of losing Dahyun. 

The MV dives straight to their breakup, with Dahyun emotionlessly removing her ring. The ring, a symbol of their love, appears throughout. To emphasize his emotions, that is otherwise not visible when he is in front of Dahyun, we get parallel shots of Young K’s feelings personified. Young K (as his emotions personified) is in a suspended car, and concurrently, as Dahyun retracts her hand from Young K’s grasp, the car jerks and he drops her ring. Young K panics, in contrast to Dahyun’s general indifference. The unstable, suspended car, interestingly, is a symbol of their turbulent relationship that Young K sings of in the pre-chorus (“Actually, I was feeling the beginning of parting. It became closer, the irreversible end”). 

At other times, his anger (at himself) and confusion are epitomized by the MV’s use of water as a motif. At one point, when Dahyun puts her ring down and spills her glass of water over it, in the next shot, Young K drowns. Water, again, appears to visually illustrate this line (“If we’re not compatible, I’ll make myself fit. If something’s missing, I’ll fill it in”), his full cup decreases, as he pours water into Dahyun’s.

Young K’s dilemma between holding on and moving on is best seen by the way he preserves his fond memories of Dahyun by literally freezing the necklace and flowers he has given her (which she returns). Later, perhaps reluctantly letting go of this relationship, and as a form of catharsis, he smashes the block of ice that has flowers preserved. 

The recurring motif of water, of both liquid and ice, establishes how uplifting yet suffocating love can be. Love was overflowing, freeing, and it made him float like he was on water. Now, however, love is overwhelming, suffocating, and drowns him. And even more so, if we compare his love to a block of ice, it takes on a different meaning: love is cold and heavy. 

“Nothing But” is what avid Day6 fans are familiar with, especially when it comes to showing Young K’s signature simple, straightforward, and relatable lyrics, that dive into the subject matter of a withering relationship. Though simple, it captures the depth of a fleeting relationship, touching on feelings of regret, love, and even anger. 

(Youtube [1]. Korea JoongAng Daily. Lyrics by Genius. Images via JYP Entertainment.)