Released April 21, 2017

Track Listing

  1. Dlwlrma
  2. Palette featuring G-Dragon
  3. Ending Scene
  4. Can’t Love You Anymore featuring Oh Hyuk
  5. Jam Jam
  6. Black Out
  7. Full Stop
  8. Through The Night
  9. Love Alone
  10. Dear Name

Review

I champion IU’s music here on Selective Hearing. Her catalog is filled with rich and diverse sounds, plus her voice is the best, if not, one of the best in the game right now. If that wasn’t enough, she’s taken more control over the lyrics in her songs in the same time period. All this is to say that IU has been firing on all cylinders for awhile now. So when the teasers for Palette started coming out, I stayed patient. When CHAT-SHIRE came out in 2015, I noted in the review that those teasers had me worried she plateaued, but when Twenty-Three dropped, it proved that she didn’t. The roll-out for this was similar, so I waited to see what she had in store for us. 

Through The Night is a cute, solid ballad. I also mention in the CHAT-SHIRE review that I’m done with IU doing ballads. She’s proven she can do great ones, but I want to hear something different. It being the first song released, I chalked this up as a palate cleanser for us, and a warm-up for IU. Then the collaboration with Oh Hyuk gets released. Now we cooking. Can’t Love You Anymore is a smooth R&B track that brings out more of IU’s sultry side, and I think her voice pairs with Oh Hyuk’s voice well. R&B isn’t a new or inventive genre for IU to tackle, but it’s at least showing a willingness to mix up the sounds on this album. 

She continues it with the title track. It’s a calmer, more reserved IU. From IU’s demeanor, the production, to G-Dragon’s voice, it all works. Not to mention that G-Dragon matches his verse to respond to IU’s lyrics. Speaking of IU’s lyrics, keep this in mind. We will revisit them later. 

If this was going to be an R&B album, that would be not a problem with me. But IU is an artist in every sense of the word, so she was bound to change it up on us. Jam Jam is one of the best songs on the album, and might even be one of her best songs, period. She jumps into the electropop lane and just crushes it. The same way Twenty-Three alleviated any worries I had going to CHAT-SHIRE, Jam Jam did that for me here. While it’s not a perfect one-to-one comparison, the duo Phantogram came to mind on my first listen and it hasn’t gone away. Also important to note, this might be the most suggestive IU has ever been. 

It’s apt that IU has a song called Full Stop, cause the momentum of the album slows down at that point. The last four songs of the album are all ballads. I wondered if spreading out the ballads across the album would help, but Ending Scene makes ballads half the album so a better distribution wouldn’t help. If you’re someone who looks for more upbeat things, then Palette and Can’t Love You Anymore might not be your thing, either. After multiple listens, I got curious and tried to figure out why she went in this direction. So I delved in the lyrics. 

In the ballads IU is singing about different stages of love: love gained, love lost, and reminiscing about the good times. Perhaps she has been thinking about her love life and it had her in this mood, which is perfectly valid to express in music. I can accept I’m not receptive to ballads as I used to be. But the translated lyrics for Palette came out and they caught my eye. Here are some screenshots of the video with the lyrics.

Stemming back to Last Fantasy, IU has given us a glimpse of where she is at in her life at the moment the music was released. From those screenshots, it appears to me that IU become more comfortable about who she is as a musician, and a person. The translations could be better, but look at those lines again.

I think now I know who I am a little

It’s strange, but I like what it’s easy these days

I got this. I’m truly fine

She’s content. Obviously she put five ballads on the album cause she wanted to, but it’s more than that. There’s no need for her to push the envelope and actively try to wow us. I can’t criticize IU for being honest. I don’t like the direction, but I like that she’s honest with us. That I can accept, but it’s nagging that she has songs like Jam Jam, Black Out, and Can’t Love You Anymore where her skills as a singer and songwriter are being more utilized, yet she settled for ballads for the majority of the album. 

I’ll continue to champion IU’s music on Selective Hearing, even if there is something left to be desired.

Palette