Album Review: Day6 – Sunrise

Release Date: 2017.06.07

Tracklist:

  1. 오늘은 내게 / Lean on Me
  2. 반드시 웃는다 / I Smile
  3. Man in a Movie
  4. 아 왜 / I Wait
  5. 어떻게 말해 / How Can I Say
  6. 놓아 놓아 놓아 / Letting Go (Rebooted Version)
  7. 그럴 텐데 / I Would
  8. 겨울이 간다 / Goodbye Winter
  9.  장난 아닌데 / I’m Serious
  10. Say Wow
  11. DANCE DANCE
  12. My Day
  13. 예뻤어 / You Were Beautiful
  14. Congratulations (Final Version)

Total Runtime: 00:50:38

Recommended for: K-rock and alternative fans with some light EDM thrown into the mix

NOT recommended for: someone looking for hip-hop, rap, or cutesy-cute pop music

After a busy half-year of monthly releases from JYPE’s boy band Day6, the group presents their first full album entitled Sunrise. The album features of a whopping total of 14 tracks – 12 of which being the songs from first six months of the Every Day6 project, one being a rebooted version of “Letting Go,” and then the final version of their début track “Congratulations.” That’s more than a few songs, and put into the perspective that the band members (particularly Young K) were heavily involved in the lyrics and production of the album makes it even more impressive. It’s one thing to release a lot of tracks – but to release 14 solid, catchy songs is a different feat entirely. For me, Day6 pulled this off beautifully and this album fully convinced me that I am at least a fan of the band’s music, if tentatively a fan of the indisputably talented five group members themselves.

1.  오늘은 내게 / Lean on Me

The album begins with a new June release from the band called “Lean on Me.” The song starts strong and forceful with a prolonged introduction of aggressive guitar strumming and drum beats. When Young K’s vocals actually enter the song they soften the sound of the song as the guitar falls away for a lighter instrumental. Something about Jae’s delivery of the verses leading up to the chorus screams anime OP to me, perhaps it’s the way they increase in speed with gradually more forceful guitar strumming behind him. When the chorus finally hits it’s a bit slower than what the build up seemed to indicate, but is a nice buffer between verses and provides some lovely vocals from Wonpil and Sungjin. However, I really think the verses are where “Lean on Me” finds its distinctive sound and keeps things interesting. The contrast between the changing speeds of verse and chorus makes for a dynamic track, but the chorus itself isn’t particularly striking or unusual. Dowoon takes on the bridge of the song singing low and slowly in another change of pace. We get one last chorus and a final striking chord before the song wraps up. It’s a nice start to the album, not my favorite track on it, but definitely in keeping with Day6’s signature sound.

2. 반드시 웃는다 / I Smile

Up next is a softer, sadder song not exactly ironically titled “I Smile” that makes the other half of the pair of June releases. Sungjin starts the song this time, a bit of a rarity for most songs on the album, and his voice is delicate and careful as he utilizes his upper range. While the MV’s whole “ex-lovers lock eyes from a distance and stare dramatically at each other” may have been done before, the song itself isn’t generic by any means. The chorus consists of mostly just one Day6’s vocalists stretching out the phrase “I smile” over some complex instrumentation that somehow manages to sound intensely nostalgic. Maybe there’s a bit of the sound of the boy bands of my childhood in the mix there. Or maybe Day6 are really just that good at conveying the message in their music.

This song is a great example the way the band tends to switch off which vocalists take on the chorus. Day6 doesn’t limit themselves to “Wonpil in the chorus” and “Young K takes the bridge.” Instead, they change up roles as the song progresses for some added interest and diversity. In other words, nothing is ever copy and paste. And I respect that. All in all, this track is another good addition to the Sunrise album that stays in line with Day6’s developing sound though it’s definitely more on the melancholy side of their spectrum.

3. Man in a Movie

Moving on to the third song on the Sunrise album we come to “Man in a Movie,” a May release. The song starts with the strong, rather forceful sound of a piano being played in series of repeating notes. There’s a pleasant, echoing effect that follows the vocals of Jae, Young K, and Wonpil as they each individually take on parts of the first verse. The chorus is where the fun really starts as the drums and electric guitar overpower the piano with vocals that are stronger and less buttery smooth than those of the verse that preceded them. Right before the chorus ends the instrumental falls away abruptly, just in time for Young K to finish with one final “movie” in the void of music. Young K also hits some blessedly high notes in the bridge before the boys chant “I love it, oh I love it” in unison. Finally, “Man in a Movie” wraps up with a somewhat unanticipated addition of orchestral strings after the final notes from Young K. Despite not being my favorite vocal tone in Day6 (that title goes to Jae) he really seemed to shine in “Man in a Movie” with his parts managing to be the most ear-grabbing in my opinion.

This track has such a laid-back sound and overall vibe to it that makes it a perfect addition to a summer soundtrack, despite not technically being a summer release. I liked the song well enough when I first heard it, but after a few listens and then some time away I unconsciously found myself singing the chorus out of nowhere. It’s the type of music that just kind of nestles in the back of your mind and tickles your subconscious when it feels like. So if there’s a song that’s going to get stuck in your head on the Sunrise album, this track has a good chance of being it.

4. 아 왜 / I Wait

With the fourth addition to the album we come to the January release “I Wait,” and arguably one of the best songs in Day6’s stellar discography. Besides being my favorite song on the Sunrise album, “I Wait” is also one of my favorite songs of the year. In fact, it’s very close to being my absolute favorite 2017 K-Pop release, second only to Seohyun’s “Bad Love.” I still vividly remember first hearing this song, and how immediately I was struck by Jae’s vocals at the beginning the song after it’s light electronic instrumental played for brief interlude. The verses are so distinctive, almost funky, and they build to the chorus in a way that really isn’t noticeable until Wonpil’s sustained note directly before it starts. The chorus itself is explosive, with the full force of electric guitars and drums entering with Sungjin’s equally powerful voice. The bridge features some slightly distorted vocals from Young K which are then echoed by Wonpil before without the filter over his voice. It’s a very cool lead up to the final chorus, and ultimately the end of the song.

“I Wait” blends Day6’s classic alternative rock sound with a more modern electronic instrumental effortlessly, and the result is nothing short of perfect. This song is a serious of ups and downs; it’s dynamic without being jarring and soft in all the right places. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they are a rock fan or K-Pop fan or what-have-you. It’s just that good.

5. 어떻게 말해 / How Can I Say

My favorite track on the Sunrise album happens to be followed by another standout in my opinion: “How Can I Say,” from the March Every Day6 releases. These tracks, despite sounding distinctively different, do all the same things right. This song comes off strong from the start, almost misleading so, with its drum intro. But this sound is quickly replaced by a rather subtle, synth-based instrumental which the vocalists use a stage for their voices. Slowly but surely the rock sound builds as we approach the chorus until the modern, electronic aspect of it all but disappears. What we get in its place is a something akin to the intro at the beginning of the song: fast, high energy, and typically alternative. The second verse bounces back to this quirky, almost EDM sound mixed with the Day6’s band instruments for a very cool effect. It’s something that almost shouldn’t work, in an auditory sense, but the five members bring it all together beautifully. The bridge is noticeably slower, but keeps a constant rhythm to it that’s punctuated the phrase “I don’t love you no more,” gently repeated even as the song builds tension for the final chorus. When the song finally finishes up, it’s almost too soon to listen to the final chords of the guitar and drums. It doesn’t seem quite fair that two stellar tracks like “I Wait” and “How Can I Say” would follow right after each other but… in all honesty I’m not really complaining.

6. 놓아 놓아 놓아 / Letting Go (Rebooted Version)

For the sixth song on the Sunrise album we return to Day6’s 2016 release “Letting Go” in a new, and in some ways, improved version. The 2017 edition of this song sounds immediately different as the boys’ re-recorded acapella harmonies bring us into the first verse. It’s clear that the vocals are different, though parts are designated to the same members. And perhaps it’s my ears playing tricks on me, but the sound of the keyboard seems a little more forceful in the reboot. Otherwise, the song follows the same structure as the original until about two-thirds of the way through.

Things really start to change when the song approaches the would be rap-break of the bridge. On my first listen to “Letting Go” I was almost floored for a moment when I realized Young K’s rapping had been replaced by a bridge consisting of just singing. The change wasn’t quite jarring – just incredibly striking – and something I think I had been longing for without even realizing it. That’s not to say Young K’s rapping is “bad,” but in my humble opinion any time a rap break can be dropped to let a vocalist shine is good time. And it just seems to suit the tone of the song better, which I think Day6 understood clearly when they changed the bridge. All in all, there are things I prefer about the original but also aspects I adore about this new version of the song. Either way, this is a noticeably different track than what was originally released that still maintains all the charm of the first version, and I’ll keep both on my playlists in the future.

7. 그럴 텐데 / I Would

The seventh track on Sunrise is a March release entitled “I Would.” There’s little to no instrumental introduction to this song, as it instead opts to begin almost immediately with Young K’s deliciously low vocals. In quite the contrast, Wonpil hits some high notes following this as the simplest of guitar and piano chords play behind him. The chorus begins just as abruptly as the song started but much more explosively with the sudden addition of Sungjin’s voice as the instrumental swells behind him. The absolute power and energy of the singing in the chorus perfectly balances the gentle sound of the verses here and I especially love the play of Jae’s voice in the second half of the chorus as effortlessly drags out his notes. We get what is likely the most stripped down bridge in the album as Wonpil shows off his range over a few notes of the keyboard. But the chorus comes back in full force for the last bit of the song as it finishes off with a few perfectly placed adlibs. The song itself is somehow simple, vaguely reminiscent of Keane, but has a certain movement to it that I just can’t explain. “I Would” lacks some of the cheerfulness of Day6’s earlier tracks but none of their beauty and is another fantastic addition to the album.

8. 겨울이 간다 / Goodbye Winter

Just over halfway through Sunrise we come to the track “Goodbye Winter” which was, fittingly, a January release. This is definitely one of the most subdued tracks on the album given the way it stays safely out of rock territory except during the chorus. Otherwise, we are treated to the gentle sound of a steady drumbeat and an instrumental that is a soft, almost ethereal canvas for the vocals of the track. Even the strength of the guitars in the chorus comes across as more nostalgic than aggressive. The song follows the same pattern of maintaining contrast between the verse and chorus by keeping the two separate in both instrumental and energy levels. It’s a bit of a familiar sound that inadvertently makes the song somewhat predictable and one of the least distinctive tracks on the album. That isn’t to say it’s not a nice song, because it is, and Day6 delivers their usual high quality vocals and music throughout it. I do think the boys, and JYPE, have done a good job of balancing the dual releases per month to release one exceptional, standout song and one good song. And “Goodbye Winter” just happens to be the good song of the bunch.

9. 장난 아닌데 / I’m Serious

Now we come to the ninth track of the Sunrise album and Day6’s leading single for the month of May: “I’m Serious.” I’m going to say it outright: I love this song. I seriously love it. It’s just so unabashedly fun without being obnoxious or try hard. “I’m Serious” doesn’t take any time get started, beginning almost immediately with Wonpil and then Jae’s bright vocals that set the playful tone for the track alongside the quirky instrumental. We hear the typical band instruments in this song, but they’re mixed with a funkier sound that matches the casual, beachy visuals of the music video. The chorus keeps the song relaxed while still adding in a definite change of pace to the continuous rhythm of the verses. While the members tend to not sing together, there is a nice running motif of the line “I can’t stop loving you” sung in unison that finishes each chorus. It’s exactly songs like this that make me appreciate how unique the voice of each band member is because they all establish such a distinctive sound to whichever chorus or verse they sing. Line distribution seems to be a strength with Day6 (except Dowoon, who really isn’t there to sing) but Wonpil in particular shines in this song. In all fairness, and all cheesiness, everything about this song shines however. “I’m Serious” when I say this is another favorite of mine on the album.

10. Say Wow

Day6 keeps things safely out of the more melancholic side of their discography with the next track called “Say Wow.” There’s something a little celebratory about this song, and it manages to stay fun without being cheesy. The tinny sound of the phrase “You make me say wow” begins the track as it grows in volume with its repetition. When the instrumental kicks in it’s primarily keyboard and string instruments, which might seem at odds with the upbeat nature of the song but it really works somehow. The chorus is aggressively cheerful and uses layers of vocals in a way that nearly makes it seem as if the boys are singing in unison, but it’s just the usual division of two to three members’ parts per chorus. The end of the track is sudden and strong, much like the music that preceded it, and makes a nice finishing touch. As far as Day6’s more upbeat songs go, this is definitely one of my favorites. It balances the rock sound with less conventionally rock instruments and there’s just something about the multitude of “say wow’s” sung throughout this song that still manages to get stuck in my head. In fact, I’m a little surprised Day6 opted to release this track as a b-side for the Every Day6 releases – it’s that good.

11. DANCE DANCE

“DANCE DANCE” is the eleventh song on Sunrise and stays in line with the more cheerful tone of the track that preceded it. Dowoon cutely opens the track with a “One, two, three,” in Korean before the instrumental cuts in. It’s vibrant and demands attention right from the get-go, from the aggressive strumming of the guitar to the rather forcefully sung lyrics. I get some Disney channel opening song vibes from this song, with better vocals of course. I think it’s the somewhat shouted lyrics mixed with the familiar sound of a guitar instrumental. There’s a very reggae sound however, that enters about a third into the song. It’s here that a short rap break begins as well, a rarity for tracks in this album especially after “Letting Go” was revamped. It’s stays in line with the overall light-hearted feel of the song, and Jae plays this up as he gives an awkward cough before the final chorus of the song is played to a final ringing chord. While this track is not my favorite sound from them, I appreciate that they are experimenting within the genre without straying too far from their musical identity. The track itself is bright, it’s upbeat, and it’s happy. I like it a lot, and I’ll leave it at that.

12. My Day

For the twelfth song of the Sunrise album we come to the February release “My Day.” As far as additions to the album go, it’s a nice one, but the distant sound of a piano being played in the introduction is a somewhat familiar one as well. The song grows progressively more complex, and unique, as it approaches the end with the bridge standing out as one of the most memorable parts. Young K blesses us with the last “you” of the bridge in a high note that sent chills up my spine. When the track finally peters out with its closing line, Jae’s voice is the softest it’s been in perhaps the whole album for a memorable finish. It was perhaps a slow start to get there, but the song did get there and I appreciate that. I think the arrangement of the song is this song interesting, or at least the way things slow down for the chorus. It’s almost a little off-putting, as if the pieces of the song don’t fit together perfectly but I think it’s more due to the fact that some parts are strung together in an unexpected way. I do enjoy it though, it just makes for a track that’s a little less seamless and fluid as some others on the album. However, being a bit unpredictable isn’t an especially bad thing. And this song is extra sweet in the context the “My Day” is no officially the fandom name of Day6, besides being the name of this track.

13. 예뻤어 / You Were Beautiful

The penultimate track on the Sunrise album is the nostalgic rock ballad “You Were Beautiful.” This song is a bit strange to me in that it didn’t immediately grab my attention but, much like the way it builds as it progresses, it hooked me in after a few listens. The track begins with the instrumental that beats a steady rhythm as the first verse grows more musically complex. The chorus is another stage for the boys to show what kind of notes their voices to sustain, and they don’t disappoint. The subtle harmonies behind the strength of the vocals in the chorus is such a nice touch as well. But really, this song uses these harmonies tastefully throughout its run to add a bit of interest at any given time. In conclusion, it’s another fantastic track that aligns with the more brooding, angsty side of Day6’s discography. Admittedly, I am a bit biased towards their angst and the absolute gems that seem to be birthed from it, so this song did everything I wanted it to. And not to be that person but I have to point out how good Young K looks in this MV. So all music aside, I highly recommend watching the music video… for the storyline. Yeah. And also for Young K’s blond hair.

14. Congratulations (Final Version)

The Sunrise album wraps up with the “final” version of Day6’s début song, “Congratulations.” The original was, in my opinion, one of the best début songs we’ve heard from new generation groups when it first released in 2015. My opinion hasn’t changed with the release of this final version, though it is a somewhat bittersweet experience to listen to the song with the glaring absence of Junhyeok’s vocals. I think Day6 functions perfectly as they are now and have done a good job of filling any gaps he may have left, but something about the final version of “Congratulations” is odd to listen to without him. Sungjin’s vocals are just a little more raw as a replacement, and while I love his sound, it is a noticeably different sound. It’s still a fantastic song, from the heart-wrenching instrumental to the vocals, and it’s likely anyone who hadn’t heard the original would find nothing lacking. I suppose this final version of “Congratulations” is a fitting end to the album in a way. It’s almost as if Day6 are ending their album with the new beginning – their sunrise, if you want to be poetic. And while I’m not sure how often I’ll be listening to this version of “Congratulations” over the original, I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless.

Review overview
Summary The ongoing Every Day6 releases have been one of the best things for K-Pop this year and hearing them compiled together in an album like this only confirms the fact that five talented musicians make up this group. The Sunrise album features some absolute gems amongst a mix of good to great songs and keeps things interesting while still managing to stay true to Day6's signature sound. All in all, one of the few albums in recent years of K-Pop that I'd comfortably give a five star rating to.
5
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Wasta

If there’s a Baekhyun, there’s a way.

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  • Jav

    Hello just wanted to say that you could have taken a look into the lyrics so you could talk about them in the review too

    • Wasta

      Hi, thanks for the feedback! I did run through lyrics videos when I listened to a lot of the tracks and tried to keep them in mind when I talked about the tone of the songs but I’ll keep that in mind.

  • izzy

    I so loved this album. Will surely buy this. Loved all songs

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