Korea's sweetheart isn't exactly my cup of tea, and by that I mean I've never ever listened to her music before. But with the lack of originality these days I became more inclined to listen to whatever it is that's different. You know, just to expand my interests. IU has returned with her second album "Last Fantasy," and boy do the songs live up to the title. Her sound is completely distinctive and immeasurable; from mythical elements to blissful balladry and candy sweet dreamy numbers, best believe that “Last Fantasy” captured all the substantial meaning required in delivering a solid work of art. I’ve already listened to the entire thing, hence my decision to write a full review. So, without any hesitation, allow me to spread my influence on you by reading this track-by-track review:
Some songs are truly indispensable and “Secret” is one of those numbers that was placed in the perfect spot, as the album opener. This is like a fairytale romance most people yearn for; every single instrument was arranged to capture that magical essence throughout the entire song. The key parts are the surreal piano melody, the dramatic drums, and the orchestral piece which included a cinematic choir. The song’s about being in love with someone you consider to be perfect for you, but you’re having difficulty in trying to find the courage to confess those feelings. The words are rather pure and you can feel IU’s innocence in them.
“Sleeping Prince of the Woods” was the absolute opposite of what I was expecting from the song title. I convinced myself that this was going to be some kind of lullaby like music with sweet, soft and peaceful singing but besides from the latter, it turned out to be quite fast paced and 80’s like. Think Orange Caramel’s signature cheesy sound mixed with Kara’s old school pop and you’ll get the birth of this song. It’s not my favorite but it didn’t ruin my interest to go further.
The moment IU took a breath and started singing, I was overtaken with the emotion spilling over in “Child Searching For A Star.” The singer had chills going up and down my spine with the sincerity in her voice; it was as if you’re kept frozen in your position and being hypnotized by the bittersweet melodies. The ending strings were so sorrowful it almost made my heart bleed. Kim kwang Jin’s addition did nothing for me because I was enamored only by IU’s vocals. This in my opinion is the track that made me realize what a beautiful gift she has and is sharing with listeners.
With an album title emphasizing on the concept of each song, there just had to be a lead track that summed up everything while distinguishing itself from the pack. I think “You and I” was the best choice for that. This is nothing far from the disco but there’s also something very modern about the sound. The song’s about having a wonderful and lasting relationship; thinking of the future together and things they’d like to accomplish. It’s near impossible to have a love so unflawed, but nevertheless, it’s also a dream come true. The track’s not as passionate or intense as the artist could be but it’s rather fitting for mainstream, which means it’ll sell.
“Wallpaper Design” has a music box melody that could put me to sleep, but I mean that in a good way. The song’s breathy, dreamy, free from pretense, and definitely tolerable to my ears. It’s rather mellow and subtle, but the singing is highly concentrated and of great quality.
If the previous track sounded like a bedtime melody then “Uncle” certainly woke me up. The artist seems to adore retro music, or is it the label that brought her unto this path? Regardless, the song’s spunky and energetic; I can see myself jiving on the dance floor to this. I also like the rap parts, which weren’t too serious but sounded rather playful and entertaining. This is a really fun song to cheer you up and get you moving.
When “Wisdom Tooth” started out with that guitar melody, I thought this was going to be a rock influenced track, but it was only blending that style along with acoustic, indie and urban pop sounds. The song’s groovy and romantic; the soundtrack to Sunday afternoon strolls in the spring time. I liked the vocal arrangement and all the different harmonies. It’s acceptable, but not that memorable.
“Everything’s Alright” is one of the more motivational songs on the album. It’s all about togetherness and trusting in each other to be there through thick and thin. I love the positivity shining through the lyrics, particularly “…like a sunny day, such a wonderful day,” meaning that you’ll overcome your darkest times. It’s very cute and playful, but you can’t help but like it.
I honestly thought I was listening to a wedding theme song for a children’s fairytale when “Last Fantasy” came in. It is the album title so I figured it had to bring all the dramatic sound arrangements you could possible think of when composing something like this. IU’s voice is beyond enchanting; there are no words to describe how captivating this song is. I’ll remember this masterpiece for days to come, no matter if it was 6 minutes long.
“Teacher” is the real rock inspired track, mixing in some r&b and pop attributes. This song was brilliantly composed and I love the ending results. I love how electrifying both the music and singing is; you can’t help but vibe along with this. Ra.D’s part was short but it wasn’t a bad idea. Still, like all the other artists who participated on the album, I wasn’t interested in their parts because of how unappealing it was. IU simply owned the album, which is understandable being that it is her own. But with all that aside, I love this song.
I think I’ve found my favorite track on the album. “A Lost Puppy” signifies everything I seek out when waiting for a track that speaks to my heart. In that sense, it touches my soul and moves me in a way no other can. The song’s not as fast pace but there’s something about it that melts you away. That short break right before the hook made me gasp. Also, the repetition and harmonies towards the end of the track sounded so sweet. The song made a connection with me that is unexplainable.
“4AM” sounded like it was borrowed from Jill Scott but I can accept that. It’s rather bluesy and 60’s like; the song reminisces on old school rhythm and blues, while keeping it soulful and modernized. The album’s production is mind blowing. There are some seriously talented people in IU’s corner. But then again, she did compose some of these songs and you can tell that because of how personalized they sound.
The singer gets jazzy on “L’amant,” French for lover. You’re left with no doubt of how breathtaking she is once she starts singing those ballads. The song’s sensuality came alive through the sounds of the saxophone and IU’s seductive vocals. There are moments where the music kept going without her singing and still the passion remained. The track would’ve been just as soul shaking even if she chose to make it an instrumental. That’s just how passionate it is. This is an artistic expression of falling in love and how mind blowing it can be. Concluding the album this way is exceptional.
Well, what can I say? The music was definitely different. I’m a new fan of this artist and she is in fact tremendously talented. After listening to her sing I can tell what all the hype surrounding her was about. Her skills make her even more deserving of such praises and even I can attest to that. “Last Fantasy” had a concept; the story is about the journey of a magical love, life, and all the other issues you might face when finding yourself. I liked it. To be honest, I couldn’t find anything bazaar, pointless, or boring except for one or two that didn’t satisfy my taste. Besides that, it’s a cool, unique, and sweet album; mega props to IU for recording such interesting music. “Last Fantasy” gets a rating of 4.9/5
02. Sleeping Prince of the Woods (Ft. Yoon Sang)
03. Child Searching For a Star (Ft. Kim Kwang Jin)
04. You and I
05. Wallpaper Design
06. Uncle (Ft. Lee Juck)
07. Wisdom Tooth
08. Everything’s Alright (Ft. Kim Hyun Cheol)
09. Last Fantasy
10. Teacher (Ft. Ra.D)
11. A Lost Puppy
(Purchase this album now on yesasia)
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