Drug Restaurant has had an odd couple of years. The group, originally named JJY Band, signed with C9 Entertainment sub-label REALIVE in January of 2016 and launched themselves under their new name in May. This was just before the release of self-titled album Drug Restaurant, their first EP under the new label. “Mistake,” the title track on that album, was a huge hit for the group. To date, the song’s music video has garnered over 1.3 million views, more than double of any of their other videos.
After “Mistake,” Drug Restaurant struggled. The success of their previous single set a very high bar, and their third album, Pomade, didn’t quite make the mark. The album lacked cohesion, which made it a slightly uncomfortable listening experience if you listened to the whole track list from beginning to end.
Back to prove themselves, the group kicked off 2018 by releasing a new digital single, Her.
A Beautiful Welcome Back
The usual high-energy melodies that Drug Restaurant fans have come to know and love were put aside for this release, making way for a smooth and simplistic ballad. “Her” was inspired by the group’s European tour, which they completed in September. Jung Joonyoung’s unmistakable voice is chilling as he sings about trying to cope with his lingering feelings after a lover left him. The actual lyrics aren’t anything revolutionary, but the frontman’s emotional delivery solidifies the sadness and heartbreak in a way that makes you feel your heart get a little heavier when you listen.
The European inspiration that led to the song’s creation is evident throughout the ballad—especially through the use of a church organ, which is not exactly a popular instrument choice in Korean music. The underlying chords that stick throughout the entire song remind the viewers of the grand churches that are such a huge part of historical European architecture. It gives the entire song an ever-so-slight hymn feeling, which only intensifies the passion and sorrow that Jung Joonyoung delivers so masterfully in his performance.
The only off-putting part of the song is the ending. Instead of finding some way to definitively wrap-up the track, the song instead just fades away, suddenly accompanied by a spaceship-sounding noise that doesn’t really match with the tone of the song at all. It’s an inconclusive ending that leaves the whole track feeling a little incomplete. It could be said that this is representative of the tour that inspired the song in the first place; something that they wished would never end but was inevitably brought to a close anyway. Even if such a reason actually existed, the ending still wouldn’t hold enough meaning to justify leaving an otherwise beautiful ballad on such an unimpressive note.
Looking Back on 2017
Matching the song’s gentle, soothing notes perfectly, the music video is a tribute to the tour that inspired the song. It features footage from both the band’s performances and clips of them wandering around the various European locations they visited. The whole video has a very home-video-meets-indie-band-documentary feel to it, making it a little more personal and meaningful than the usual overly-produced music video.
It’s one of those videos that fans truly appreciate because it’s a look back at what the band considers an important part of their career. It’s a recap of a crucial moment in their lives, but it’s also something that they clearly wanted to share with the people who’ve been supporting them. Original JJY Band fans and new listeners alike are given the group’s feelings on a retro-style, four-minute music video platter.
Drug Restaurant’s surprise year-opening single was a great start to 2018 for the group. Kicking off with a heart-wrenching ballad is one of the best ways to let fans know that an even better year is on the way without setting an extremely high bar right from the start, especially since slow, feeling-rich tunes aren’t something that the band has promoted in the past. If “Her” is anything to go by, we can expect some truly amazing music coming from Drug Restaurant in 2018. I can’t wait!