Amidst the wave of hyper-produced pop releases and electrobeat-driven hip-hop songs, Korea’s favorite acoustic act, 10cm, released their fourth full album on September 2. Following the trend of their previous releases, the album is titled 4.0 and offers a bittersweet, amazing collection of songs for the audience to enjoy.
This album is, somehow, more wholesome to me than any of their previous releases. The songs flow wonderfully well with one another, and the instrumentalization, kept to a minimum, draws even more emotion from you as you listen to each of the songs. Whether it’s a sad or happy track, there is just something in the music that will elicit some kind of deep-rooted feeling in you (or, at least, that’s what it did to me).
4.0 starts with the delicate, heart-wrenching “Everything.” Kwon Jungyeol’s soft voice opens the song, completely alone at first. Starting an album with a ballad like this is risky. The truth is, it is hard to keep a listener’s attention with a ballad as a first track (unless you expect it, like in the case for Kyuhyun’s releases, for example). But “Everything” is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t get too overloaded with instruments as it progresses, though a guitar, a piano, and even a contrabass add themselves to the track. For the most part, Jungyeol’s voice carries the song, and it retains that soft-spoken, delicate touch. The lyrics, “You’re my everything, everything, everything,” are so simple, yet speak volumes. It’s almost as though you can feel yourself falling in love with the song itself, or the feeling it gives you.
The title track, “Help,” resembles “Everything” in its sweetness, slow beat, and simple composition. Though it is somehow “louder” than “Everything” was, “Help” still possesses something so wonderfully unique about the way it is built. Jungyeol’s vocals, once again, steal the spotlight for the entire song. It places emphasis on the lyrics and their meaning: “Help, somebody help me please, tonight.” It’s one of the sad songs on the tracklist, retelling the worries and the helplessness one might feel through life. Maybe that’s why it’s one of my favorites—it’s almost too easy to relate to, but most of all, it is somewhat hopeful. The melody, especially, aids a lot with that feeling, the one that reminds you that though things may be difficult now, they’re bound to get better, one way or another. The music video for “Help” illustrates as much and does it brilliantly, while also providing LGBT representation and tackling divorce issues, amongst other things. What more can you ask for?
On the happier side of things, I personally fell in love with “Phonecert.” It’s so sweet! So lovely! And so, so, so cute! From Jungyeol’s higher pitch to the quirky guitars and the tinkling piano notes resounding here and there, everything about this song just screams happiness and romance. As Jungyeol sings about performing a very special concert to his beloved through the phone, there’s simply no way you can listen to this song without smiling at least once. Or twice. Or throughout the entire track. The music video brings out that same happy vibe as the song. It’s quirky and adorable, and Jungyeol’s smile will absolutely melt your heart. “Phonecert” is definitely worth falling in love with.
“Pet” and “Hotel Room” are other happy, merry-go-round kind of songs that are definitely worth a listen. If you’re more into the slow, almost murmured kind of ballads, “Pause” would be your best pick. A full five minutes long, it’s one of those songs that is almost too beautiful to exist and just too full of emotion to listen to without getting completely immersed in the music, even if most of the track is…nearly silent. But as the guitar notes barely scratch your ear and as Jungyeol’s voice barely elevates itself above a whisper, it still manages to rope you in with the massive amount of emotion contained within the track. It’s absolutely stunning, and there’s really no other way for me to describe it.
Overall, 4.0 is pretty much perfect. No, it’s not complex pop that overloads your senses (far from it). No, it’s not carefully crafted hip-hop or loud rock. Not to say that any of those aren’t good, but 4.0 (just like the rest of 10cm’s releases) is different. It’s just a guy and his guitar, and that’s the beauty of it.