Track Listing

  1. 비밀 (Secret)
  2. 잠자는 숲 속의 왕자 (Sleeping Prince of the Woods)
  3. 별을 찾는 아이 (Child Searching for a Star)
  4. 너랑 나 (You & I)
  5. 벽지무늬 (Wallpaper Patterns)
  6. 삼촌 (Uncle)
  7. 사랑니 (Wisdom Tooth)
  8. Everything’s Alright
  9. Last Fantasy
  10. Teacher
  11. 길 잃은 강아지 (A Lost Puppy)
  12. 4AM
  13. 라망 (L’amant)

Released November 29, 2011

IU’s second album, Last Fantasy continues the concept from her debut album, Growing Up. She is nearing the age of adulthood in Korea. As with any person coming close to adulthood, there is a dissonance. You want to be treated as an adult, so you being carrying yourself as one; but you still carry with you some of your child/teenage behaviors and idiosyncrasies.

Last Fantasy has a similar separation. There are songs here that have the child-like innocence to them, and there are songs that embrace the excitement that comes with growing up to an adult. The dichotomy, is what brings the album together. Sure, the songs can stand on their own (as seen with her all-kill, every song on the album appearing on most charts in Korea) but together, it ends up creating something better.

IU has always garnered much acclaim for her voice. Her versatility is why many people look at her as a singer first, entertainer second. She came to, as the hip-hop community likes to say, “show and prove” again on Last Fantasy. Both the opening and closing track, Secret and L’amant respectively, have IU flexing those vocal chords, accompanying the instruments well. Secret has IU bringing out the grandiose and powerful aspect of singing while L’amant has IU in jazz singer mode with a sultry and romantic tone.

You & I is the lead single and just so happens that it also is a microcosm of the album. The production of the song, provides the perfect soundscape for emotions of a young adult. IU’s singing is deft. It simultaneously combines love seen by an adult with the motivations of a child in love. It’s amazing. For full disclosure, I didn’t have this thought about the song when I first heard it or even the 12th time, but during listening to the album for review, it struck me to be something more. I can pick up maybe a few words of Korean but it seems unnecessary to know the language to appreciate this song. The video itself, also is able to convey the time between childhood ending and adulthood beginning.

4AM is a noteworthy song, because Corinne Bailey Rae wrote it for IU. The song has a real soulful vibe, something that obviously, Corinne would produce for herself. Taking IU out of her element, it could have been bad for the album, but to her credit, she manages it well and ends up being a surprise. Here’s hoping that the two of them work together more.

Last Fantasy succeeds with its concept. For me, it didn’t quite click for me the first listen through. I thought the more mature songs seemed to be overwhelmed with the bubblegum pop on the album. But a second and third listen through, I realized the album, is a complete work. Without the more pop-oriented songs, the more dense songs don’t stand up as well. Together, it ends up being more than the sum of its parts. If the whole end of childhood, beginning of adulthood thing doesn’t sit well for you, I do hope you still give Last Fantasy a shot. I think it’s worth your time.