By the time the extended play “VERSE’2” came onto the music scene in the middle of 2017, South Korean male duo JJ Project had a lot of experience under their belts. Group members JB and Jinyoung debuted in 2012 with the catchy and youthful “Bounce,” took time away from performing and then re-debuted in GOT7 in 2014. Since then, their greatest focus has been the works related to their seven-member group.
Okay, now that you’ve made it past the “reserved” introduction … I cannot write this and withhold my enthusiasm for all things GOT7 and GOT7 adjacent.
ALLOW ME TO TALK LIKE A FANGIRL.
JJ Project came back with this album and said, “We’re here and we’ve grown up,” and it’s so pleasing. During previous GOT7 album promotions, the duo led many to believe that JJ Project would never return, particularly when they implied that those duo days were over during a GOT2DAY upload.
What we didn’t know then, was that the group’s “mom and dad” had a baby in the oven that would release eight months later. Whew boy, it’s a good album! They each contributed to the tracks with collaborative writing and/or music selection, too! Without further flailing and rambling, let’s get into the album review.
A clean bass guitar confidently plucks in at the nine-second mark on a track that isn’t too easy to get an initial read on. Without even realizing it, the song begins with little unnecessary fanfare surrounding the singing. In fact, JB and Jinyoung ride that bass with ease, accenting it with a smooth synth and kit drum selection. Nothing is drowned out in their vocals. It’s the refreshing musical journey that is “Coming Home,” the first of four tracks on the album penned by Jinyoung.
With lines like, “Even if the night air is too cold, I thought of you who would wait outside. That’s how I endured and came this far. Now let’s never let go,” and the refrain, “I’m coming home,” one could easily believe this song to be about returning to a long-distance partner. As an I GOT7, however, it’s their apology upon returning after five long years. (We’re so lucky!)
Tomorrow, Today (내일, 오늘)
JB and Jinyoung teamed up with J. Y. Park to craft the reflective lyrics of the lead track “Tomorrow, Today.” The song sits its listeners in the middle of a mind debating life’s next move. Although the production choices are simple and hone in on a light rock vibe, the lyrics are weighty and emotional. What makes the song most pleasurable is the lyrical disbursement and balanced harmonies. Years of brotherhood inside and outside a recording studio creates a vulnerability in this song that is wonderful.
“On&On” sounds like it was the testing ground for the concept and style of the GOT7 album that followed this project, “7 For 7.” The difference, however, is that JJ Project didn’t need a rap or variety of vocal styles to make it a meaningful transition from the pace of the albums first two tracks. The song is upbeat yet sultry. Contemporary R&B influences are evident in the way the verses and chorus are structured, too. The standout vocals come from JB on this song, which seems odd to say when it’s a balanced duo. However, there is a punch to his delivery that makes his verses most memorable.
I can admit that using the word “triumphant” is dramatic for many songs, but I’m not recanting the statement here. “Icarus” is bold. “Never, I can’t give up. I can’t fall down …. For the people who believe in me. I will prove it.” #Goosebumps. “Icarus” begins with a distorted piano and guitar, as JB and Jinyoung go line for line, building up to a falsetto chorus that crashes into the speakers. The first 1:25 seconds of this song — subtle tension, crescendo unexpected — can lead you to believe that they are fully invested in risking everything to be free. The name of the song comes from a tragedy, sadly. Hopefully, in soaring high toward their dreams, they won’t experience the same fate.
Don’t Wanna Know
As a fan of quirky sound combinations, “Don’t Wanna Know” won me over quickly. I’d like to chalk it up to the gentlemen speaking English at its start, but it’s more than that. There’s a groove to this, and it’s all about a breakup? This isn’t a stereotypical ballad at all! For those who have had their fill of the emotional crooning over soft piano keys that enwombs some Korean love songs, the take on sorrow is welcomed. You’ll find yourself bobbing your head to the music and totally forgetting that JJ Project is basically sitting in a corner, in tears, about their ex.
The way the lyrics are delivered is the star of this track, as there is nothing very distinct that ties it to its music. “Find You” could work over an acoustic guitar, finger snaps or a completely different instrumental altogether. Nonetheless, it’s a decent close to the portion of the album that is about the artists working together, and possibly an accountability call to their fans that they’ll always come back to us. (Again, we’re so lucky!)
The Day (그날 (Jinyoung solo))
The nonexistent music video directs itself within your mind while listening to this song. Coffee shop? Soft lighting? Maybe a hand gliding over a rail as you’re walking into a quaint spot? I’m with you on the visuals! Jinyoung casually crafts a song that fits on adult contemporary airwaves but stays true to a hole-in-the-wall open mic night vibe. I can’t make sense of it at all, but it’s wonderful!
Fade Away (JB solo)
Okay, Jaebum. You win. If I was playing this album on vinyl, I know that the closing track would be worn out. JB has long been known to be a fan of American R&B and “Fade Away” plays that love affair up to its fullest potential.
Suffice it to say, I adore this album, both as a music lover and as a fan. Vocal and emotional maturity gave birth to a sweet li’l baby. Thanks, “mom” and “dad” for taking the time you needed.
What did you think of the album?