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Day6 - ‘Unlock’ Album Review

A Successful Japanese Debut from the Korean Rock Band

Korean rock band Day6 are no strangers to shattering expectations. Their two full-length albums consisting of songs released as part of the Every Day6 project helped earn them public praise and expanded their passionate fanbase. Due to their originality, the quintet have set a high bar in terms of consistent releases through ideas that in an industry that could easily be described as formulaic, set them apart from the rest of the pack. Add two mini-albums to the mix, and you can see that their extremely solid Korean releases alone have built the band solid foundations, and have proved to people that there is no limit on how far they can go.

From reading the previous paragraph alone, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that when Day6 decided to make the step into the Japanese market, people were excited. After months of smart promotion, their Japanese debut album Unlock was released, and in similar fashion to the band’s Korean efforts, it didn’t disappoint.

Starting with the uplifting track "Live Your Life," the traditional rock sounds that have become almost signature to Day6 mix well with the modern elements added, and the lyrics help to add layers to a song that already delivers on numerous fronts. It doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming a cliche pop track despite flirting with background "woah" noises, and the tight and organised instrumentals help make the track a palatable soft-rock effort.

However, it’s after the album’s introduction in which it truly bursts into life. The next tracks, "Breaking Down" and "Stop The Rain," have powerful riffs, sharp drum fills, and vocals that are unwavering in strength. The electronic element that member Wonpil brings to the table can’t be ignored, and despite taking a more subtle position in these songs that are very much rooted in the rock genre, the synth still remains just as effective.

"Say Hello" brings colour and vibrancy to the record, packing energy and a tangible sense of enjoyment into a track that doesn’t try to be anything other than fun. Young-K (bass and vocals) really shines here in my opinion, and this kind of catchy rock seems tailor-made for both his personality and vocal styling.

Similarly, "Everybody Rock!" manages to be catchy without losing its charm, and is accessible to even the most casual of listener. It shows not everything has to be packed with intricate details to be a great song, nor does it have to get wildly over the top with 10 minute guitar solos and glass-shattering vibrato. Simplicity is key. Drummer Dowoon even gets a vocal cameo, something any fan will tell you is a fun rarity, so that very much means you can’t possibly dislike this song in particular.

From the toe-tapper "I Just" to the more emotional track "Falling," the latter section of the album explores interesting elements and successfully adds new weapons to an already powerful arsenal. It’s in this section I realised how Jae (guitars and vocals) really stands out on this record. Not only are his guitar riffs criminally good, but his vocals are flawless, and make his parts in particular very intriguing, and something I genuinely look forward to hearing.

Finally, the curtain-closer "Baby It’s Okay" (originally released in March), successfully finishes proceedings with finesse. Highlighting everyone’s strong-points, it’s a layered showcase of a song that is quintessential listening for anyone looking to really see what this band is about.

In conclusion, this album delivers in a huge way. Every member pulls their weight, everything is sonically enjoyable and accessible, and despite shifting style slightly for the Japanese market, everything still feels very much like it belongs to Day6. From the emotional raw vocals of Sungjin to experimentation with instrumentation that seemingly has a personality of its own, there is something in these 11 tracks that can interest anyone, and with nothing negative to say, I’ll finish by recommending that you make the time to listen to this, and really try to sink your teeth into the elements that make Day6 one of the most refreshing and consistently excellent rock bands in music today.

Album rating - 9.5/10