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With expectations of fans filled to the brim, IU made sure not to disappoint with her ninth EP, Love Poem. Topping numerous charts in Korea, the self-composed EP showcases different sides of IU—both mature and childlike—while incorporating many genres at the same time.
IU begins her album with a relatable and light song about her worries and the many realities of life.
The song uses short, jumpy piano notes creating a light, fun atmosphere throughout the song. She begins the song hopeful and motivational about life but the sharp sound of a bottle opening after the first verse gives the song a refreshing feel while also bringing IU back to reality, making her realize the uncertainty and awkwardness of real life. Harsh piano chords in the pre-chorus contrast to the light and fun atmosphere of the song, perhaps symbolizing the confusion and hesitation one faces in society, beneath the smiles and ‘motivational’ words. Overall, the song describes how humans strive to go faster and faster while surrounded by uneasiness. However, there could have been more happening musically in the chorus.
02. “The visitor“
“The Visitor” is a song composed by IU with heavy Corinne Bailey Rae influences. IU takes an R&B route with the song, which contrasts with the cheerful “Unlucky.”
The soft strumming guitar throughout the song, especially during the beginning, is simple yet it creates an image of IU sitting in front of them; the song feels personal, almost like a direct look into IU’s inner feelings. A synthetic, ghostly sound leads from the first verse into the second, establishing a creepy, melancholy atmosphere to the song. This develops into a strong bass alongside the guitar. During one of the verses, all the instruments are stripped apart from the strumming guitar and IU’s voice, both of which are filtered and muffled, perhaps reflecting her clouded and unclear thoughts. Her voice also shifts between the lower and higher registers, echoing her fluctuating feelings as the song comes to an abrupt end, leaving no lingering feelings behind but also leaving a lot to be questioned. Wistful and sentimental, the song paints a picture of a bittersweet ending to a relationship.
Again, there could be more happening in the chorus and it would have been interesting to see more musical changes in the song as well.
IU’s title track, Blueming, is a lively, pop-rock track describing one’s feelings before the start of a relationship. IU’s life is blooming with the prospect of love.
Heavily driven by the catchy guitar tune and continuing drum beats, the song starts at a moderate pace. The song meanders, not going in any particular direction as if IU is wandering around the topic herself and realizing her feelings. Just before the chorus, the instruments momentarily fade away before coming back impactful with the strong drums and heavy guitar riffs. The strong pounding drums add to the different textures of the song as IU launches into a catchy refrain which the listener can sing along to. During the second verse, the drums come in a beat later, throwing the listener slightly off.
The drums cut off suddenly in the final chorus and do not come in straight away, prolonging the anticipation of the listener and adding flair and impact to the song. When the drums do eventually come in, the mixture of different instruments is pleasant to ear – a grand finale before finishing.
Overall the song is very standard-title track however, it is done very well. The repeating guitar riff, although pleasant to the ear, could have been changed up a bit to create a more musically interesting song.
04. “Above the time”
The long-awaited sequel to IU’s 2012 ‘You and I’, ‘Above the Time’ does not fail to meet expectations. With IU’s graceful vocals, the song tells the story of happiness and sorrow.
The song begins with a light, soft mix of piano and strings and as the song builds up, the addition of horns adds to the elegant atmosphere. The first verse ends and the listener is introduced to electronic beats and drums while the music keeps building up, mixing modern with the past. A small intermission ensues after the first chorus: a melancholy piano with the sound of a distant flute, quite jittery and magical with ‘Secret Garden’ vibes. All of a sudden, the listener is assaulted by traditional Scottish dance music – the fiddle being the most prominent instrument – merging with opera, creating an interesting tune, and entertaining the listener. With the instrumental coming to an end just as abruptly as it began (almost as if it were never there, to begin with), IU’s drawling voice is introduced back into the song through the bridge, and the song peaks at its final chorus. The song ends with quiet, softly spoken lyrics as the song slowly fades away before the grand Disney-like ending, bringing a finish to both the song and the 7-year long story.
Filled with hidden music treasures, ‘Above the Time’ is a song to be cherished and enjoyed. Bringing both interesting musical changes that keep the listener on their toes as well as beautiful vocals, IU did not disappoint with this track.
Bringing an end to one’s nightmares and discomforts, IU sings a sweet ballad called ‘Lullaby’
With a light but irregular piano tune and soothing vocals, IU lulls the listener to a dream-like state. One can note the crescendo with dramatic notes leading up to a softer chorus that expected; IU continues to play with dynamics throughout the song which switch between soft and loud. A particularly interesting lyric was IU’s reference to the ‘Edelweiss’ – a well-known song from the famous 1965 film ‘The Sound of Music’. An edelweiss is a precious white flower found in the mountains with dense hair that protects the flower from danger – a symbol of rugged beauty. Maybe IU is implying that this person, whom she is comforting, is a protection for her.
‘Lullaby’ is a sweet song to listen to on a rainy day; it is the perfect song for a cafe. However, it is too simplistic. Even taking the fact that it is a ballad into account, it is a song that can tire easily as there are no textures or no other musical changes apart from the piano.
06. “Love Poem”
IU walks on a flower path with ‘Love Poem’ – a somewhat lonely but comforting song.
Like a typical ballad, the song mainly relies on the voice of the singer. Yet there is anguish and sorrow in IU’s words which conveys much more than instruments could. One can paint a picture of themselves walking down a path in mid-spring with blossoms in full bloom, reminiscing about memories as beautiful as the purple flush of dawn; especially with the piano’s light jumpy tune during part of the first verse, mimicking footsteps. With only with the accompaniment of the piano, IU sounds lonesome and melancholy during the first chorus. However, as she continues, the listener is introduced to a quiet strumming guitar and soft drum – there is no longer only a solitary piano. The instruments blend along with a chorus of male voices, harmonizing beautifully with IU’s voice in the final chorus; IU no longer sounds alone anymore – melancholy, but not alone.
Love Poem was an album filled with many musical treats; incorporating ballads, pop, and R&B all into one album. There was something for everyone: whether it was the sweet ballads or the light, pop tunes. IU, yet again, displayed her beautiful lyricism and variety. Although a solid album, there were some disappointing moments where I expected some more musicality. Overall, Love Poem was a decent mini-album with many hidden gems.