F.T. ISLAND – 'WHAT IF'
1. Summer Night's Dream *Title
2. Dance With U
4. Fade Out (Feat. Yuna of AOA)
5. Who I Am
6. Paradise (Korean Ver.)
F.T. Island is back just in time for midsummer, with their 6th mini-album, 'What If.' The EP has five new songs, plus a remake of "Paradise," previously only available in Japanese. The album topped the Hanteo daily chart on the day of release and kept to that trend the next day as well.
"Summer Night's Dream" has a very island melody, like you might hear in the dinner theater in Hawaii, a steady strum, with a tempo akin to reggae. While it sets the tone for the album, I think I would have preferred something with a little more oomph to it. It's cute, but cute can only take you so far. The second half is actually awesome, though. By contrast, "Dance With U" has more layers, deeper notes, and just overall better production. There are some great breaks here, and the chorus is a great payoff. This is the club-banger on the album, and it is definitely catchy and danceable.
"Nowhere" has some nods back to 2015-2016. There's some nice guitar work in the chorus, even if much of the main verse work is extremely mainstream. While it's not a bad tune, it needs a little more to be memorable. "Fade Out" sees the band teaming up with AOA's Yuna. Here's where we get the crunchy guitars and the vocals that sound like they were ripped from Hongki's soul. I love the subtle hint of menace in this tune -- and this is how I remember them, and the sound I love best. Yuna has this lonely cast to her lovely voice, and it stands up well to the more ominous tones of this epic tune.
The power ballad "Who I Am" serves to round out the original songs on this disc. One thing I like is how expressive the vocals are here. They do a great job of figuring out what works and stuffing it into this song, without altering the format. It's not their best, but it's right up there. "Paradise" is one of my faves. The subject matter matches well with the album, being a super-sweet love song. The band is singing that anywhere is paradise as long as they're with the girl. Sonically, it's harder-rocking, featuring guitars in minor chords and the pounding drums, the slower pace. It's closest to the material I love best -- on 'I Will' and 'Where's the Truth?'
And that's my problem with much of the EP. It's a little bland. It seems like every time a band goes and does something lighter, they get their teeth pulled. They lose their bite, their edginess, and everything that made them interesting in the first place. They haven't quite gone that far, but I listened to this album while doing other things, and nothing other than the 4th and 6th tracks really made my ears perk up and say "wow!" 'I Will' wowed me. This EP, not so much.
A fuzzy-costumed young man passing out flyers meets a girl in another costume, and he goes home, rhapsodizing over a pic of this mystery girl. They meet up, and he giddily follows his date around. He and the rest of the band perform in a noraebang, and finally in a theater. For an audience of one: her. It's the stuff dreams are made of...but that would be telling.
I mentioned it was a cute song, and it is. So they made an appropriately cute MV that went along with it and it is fun. The boys slam together as the shred the solo in the middle, and the scenes of Hongki with his date are funny. Not to mention the antics of the other band members are something to smile about.
Searching for the furry convention
Really, that's all there is to it, without totally giving everything away. See for yourself. It's an enjoyable watch at least the first time around, maybe more if you're completely head over heels like Hongki is in this MV.
MV SCORE: 8.0
ALBUM SCORE: 7.6