Only 23 years young, Lee Ji-eun, also known as IU, is already one of the biggest stars in South Korea. Her latest album Palette released on April 21st, 2017, is a welcoming addition to her successful repertoire of music releases including album Modern Times and her EP Real which features the single “Good Day.” Palette shows that IU’s future remains bright while continuing to mature and grow.
Palette starts with “dlwlrma,” a short but sweet track to start the album just right. With its jazzy-pop sound, there’s a strong feel-good vibe that emits from the song. Listeners will feel right at home with IU’s enchanting vocal performance and up-beat instrumental. The album shifts into a smooth, steamy mood with the second track, “Palette.” The sine-wave synth pads alone that open the song add such a mesmerizing atmosphere. IU’s breathy voice performance fits the song’s lustful vibe and the rap vocals by Big Bang star G-Dragon don’t sound out of place. The music video is wonderfully produced, mixing both retro and modern images and props. The cinematography is spot on, allowing IU to shine and basically be herself with each shot.
IU keeps the mood going with piano ballad “Ending Scene,” which is a sad love song and has the perfect sound to match the mood for a sad ending scene. Palette kicks things back up with “Can’t Love You Anymore,” featuring Oh Hyuk, lead singer and guitarist for South Korean indie band Hyukoh. This laid-back R&B track perfectly complements the mood for a lazy, relaxing afternoon. Oh Hyuk nails his vocal performance here, and there is an overall strong sense of chemistry between both Oh Hyuk and IU. The complementing vocals makes “Can’t Love You Anymore” an enjoyable song to listen to.
Meanwhile, “Jam Jam” represents the album’s first dance track. It’s not a total banger, but it’s 80’s-esque synth lines and IU’s mesmerizing vocal performance will bring enough heat to dancefloors. IU carries the momentum over with “Black Out,” with a similar upbeat sound with a little heavier kick. The powerful vocal performances from the lead to the harmonizing backing vocals really makes this song a dazzling and uplifting experience to listen to.
Palette turns things back down, dimming the lights with a heartfelt song in “Full Stop.” Dominated by vocals, a piano, strings, and woodwinds, the arrangement and vocal performance gets listeners at level with IU as she expresses her emotions and establishes a connection with them. However, there wasn’t anything to set up for the mood that “Full Stop” delivers, so this sudden transition was a little awkward.
From this point out, IU ends Palette with all chilled, heartfelt music. “Through the Night” keeps the lights dimmed with acoustic guitars, a Rhodes piano, and an electric organ. Of course, “Through the Night” also showcases IU’s strong lead and backing vocals. The mood carries over into “Love Alone,” which is quieter and has a haunting sound. Palette ends with Dear Name, an emotionally-filled ballad where we get to hear IU ends things on a high and powerful note with a breathtaking vocal performance. The instrumental is fantastic here as well, creating a theatre-like atmosphere for the song.
Overall, Palette is a fairly impressive album, showcasing a likeable and genuine side of IU’s musical talents. She has explained that like a palette, Palette is “beautifully packed” with various colours, which is exactly how the album is crafted. Although I didn’t feel like there was enough variety between the tracks, Palette is still an artistic long-play record that K-Pop fans will simply love.
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