There are plenty of colours on Palette, the fourth Korean album from South Korean singer, songwriter and actress IU. Fresh off her leading role in the K-drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, the triple-threat star returns to the airwaves with a record of songs she penned herself.
That personal lyrical touch is evident on the autobiographical-like numbers that populate the 10-track collection. The titular lead single and collaboration with BIGBANG’s G-Dragon is a charming millennial coming-of-age song with some clever word play.
Although it’s kind of amusing how IU – born Lee Ji-eun – has a predisposition for revealing her age in her songs (she has done so before on the quirky Twenty-Three). Over thumping bass and delicate electronic beats on Palette, the singer rhymes “I’m 25” with “I’m truly fine”. Haha, good luck rhyming words with your age when you’re 35, girl.
But that backhanded reminder of IU’s youth makes this full-length an even more arresting listen. Palette is an album that oozes with maturity. With the exception of the goofy opening track dlwlrma (which supposedly spells out the Korean characters of the songstress’ Instagram handle on the keyboard), the album drips with sexy after hours aspirations for most of its 39-minute running time.
The sultry Jam Jam is easily a standout here, with IU’s breathy vocals caressing a distinctly disco beat. The vocal layers about one minute into the song is insanely addictive.
Meanwhile, Can’t Love You Anymore – the smooth-like-honey duet with indie band Hyukoh’s frontman Oh Hyuk – is a sweet like sugar ode with some jazzy leanings that add a nice dimension to the album.
The album caps off with ballads towards the end. One in particular steals the show. The touching Ending Scene – with an equally touching music video that features My Love From The Star’s Kim Soo-hyun – is rife with heartache as IU sings about moving on when love’s gone bad. The song is equal parts bitter and forgiving, making for a very emotional listen.
If anything, IU has never sounded more confident than she does on this album. That newfound boldness makes Palette an even more arresting record by way of an impressive emotional clarity and thoughtfully crafted melodies.