IU – PALETTETrack List:
2. Palette (feat. G-Dragon)
3. Ending Scene
4. Can't Love You Anymore (feat. Oh Hyuk)
5. Jam Jam
6. Black Out
7. Full Stop
8. Through the Night
9. Love Alone
10. Dear Name
After her turn in the hit drama 'Scarlet Heart Ryeo,' IU has dropped her new LP 'Palette!' Her fourth full-length album features 10 tracks in all, with lyrics written by IU herself. She also gets some help from Kim Eana ("Red Shoes") on "Dear Name" and Sam Kim on "Ending Scene." Oh Hyuk and G-Dragon lend their voices to a couple tracks as well. The pre-release tracks "Jam Jam" and "Through the Night" round out the tracklist.
The first track on this disc is not a title track, but an amusing bit of wordplay. "Dlwlrma" is what you get when you type "이지금 Lee Ji Geum" on a keyboard, using a Korean keyboard, but the output is in the Qwerty format. It's also her username on Instagram. "Lee Ji Geum" is a further play on her name, upgrading her name to "gold" ("geum") since her last name "Eun (Lee Ji Eun)" means silver. This, combined with the whimsical lyrics make this jazz-inspired tune a precious one. The lyrics are kind of funny and strange all at the same time, and meanwhile, her voice handles the range well. It's high and childlike and provides just the right atmosphere for this track. I like how in the chorus she says she's "truly fine" and twenty five," it adds another layer of clever wordplay.
"Palette" is the first of the two title tracks. It's kind of a soft pop tune, with strong R&B leanings and featuring G-Dragon. It's largely IU, as the Big Bang member only has a tiny part, where he raps. It's a little unusual, as he eschews his typical growl and breaks out the clean vocals. He has a good flow, though, and makes a good track even better.
"Ending Scene" is a quiet ballad, which tells a sad story about a broken heart, someone who she loved who didn't love her back as much and left. The lyrics are a bit of an old standby, but her vocals inject the tune with a lot of tenderness. The tune itself is, for the most part, quiet and controlled... there's really no flourishes. But as I've said before, resisting the urge to drown it in symphonic cacophony makes ballads so much better. Like this one.
"Blackout" is probably my favorite track on the album. It's got an energy to it which many of the other songs lack, and it's refreshing rather than jarring. It's actually kind of danceable, even though the tune is very low-key and slower. It's got a sort of modern-retro vibe and has some things in common with R&B and jazz. Her voice is excellent on here, high as it is, juxtaposed with a low register bass line, and I love the industrial feel here.
Notably, the last four tracks are all ballads. "Through the Night" is a pre-release track. "Full Stop" is a tender one, and though it gets more active at the end, they don't lose her lovely voice. It just gets higher, and a little more desperate. It still retains that essential piano riff established at the beginning, and they end it the same as it began. "Love Alone" is an entirely acoustic tune, done with her voice and a guitar. I think it suits the lyrics well, and she can do amazing things with her pipes on a stripped down tune like that. Very moving. By contrast, "Dear Name" is a more traditional ballad, and the clashes at the end try to drown her out. It's probably my least favorite song on the disc because of it. There's literally nothing to distinguish it from the thousands of songs just like it, other than IU's name.
For her fourth studio album, IU has eschewed many of the pop rhythms that characterized some recent albums. Instead, she went back more to the acoustic style where she hit it big, but there are some refinements, such as the "Blackout" and "Palette." This disc uses her angelic voice to the fullest, and she hits the all the right notes on this LP. She has really matured into a really fine young lady.
MV REVIEW -- "PALETTE"
"Palette" contains a whole lot of imagery but not much in terms of substance. We see a bunch of shots with IU, and G-Dragon was entirely absent from the MV.
But this isn't a bad thing if you do it well. Ultimately, it doesn't look as if they broke the budget, but the cornucopia of different shots hides this well. It's almost as if the MV makers went to a garage sale and picked up a variety of items, from a bust of Michaelangelo's David, empty bottles, a neon sign, a video game, etc. And then shoveled them, wholesale, into the video.
If one of the artists has to be absent from the video, then you need to do it this way. G-Dragon was replaced by dolls, a Windows Media Player knockoff, IU playing a video game, etc. Yeah, give us something to look at other than just IU. While she's a lovely woman, having her dancing alone to a disembodied voice is just awkward. Frankly, their approach here worked so much better.
As IU is not really a dancer (nor is the tune a dance number), there's no dancing. But I'm sure there was serious storyboarding in here, as IU trips from one scene to the next. You never know what you're going to see between eyeblinks in this MV, and that's actually a really good thing. Besides the awesome song, you have a pretty solid video to go along with it.
MV REVIEW -- "ENDING SCENE"
"Ending Scene" is a very different beast than "Palette." The song review pretty much tells you how the MV is going to go.
The video shows IU reunited with her 'Producers' and 'Dream High' co-star Kim Soo Hyun. Here she remembers all their moments together, with some pretty cheesy-looking sets, which I think is the point. I think they're trying to portray much of that as unreal, almost surreal vibe. And it works -- to a point. Especially at the end, when they're showing him enjoying himself while she can only look on.
It's a poignant video, made more poignant by the sudden ending to the MV. While it coincides with the song, it's incredibly sad, given the events. Yes, they're played as surreal too, like a stage play, but IU can do a sad face pretty convincingly. While I wasn't enamored with her last drama, I can find few faults with her performance. And she does the same quality job here.
Kim Soo Hyun is prototypically the character he best portrays. He's down-to-earth, laughing along with her and going with the flow. Soo Hyun plays a really good leading man, and here he gives good face. It helps to have a good script, I think. But his acting chops are already well-established.
The MV is "Ending Scene," and the song is sad, so it makes sense that the ending scene in the video will be sad as well. It's not tear-wrenching, but it's good enough. It's fun to watch, even if you know your mood will take a hit by the end.
MV Score: 8.3
Album Score: 8.7