It’s getting a little repetitive to open every DAY6 review with the same sentiments, but I just can’t believe how well their year-long promotional cycle is going. They’ve been punctual each and every month with high quality releases, and now they’ve smartly packaged the first half of their 2017 output into a full-length album that feels cohesive and accomplished.
As the title track that officially heralds the album’s release, listeners might expect I Smile (반드시 웃는다) to be one of the group’s more attention-grabbing, bombastic works. Instead, the song flirts with an anthemic sense of production without ever going over the top. As the opening verse swells with swirling guitar and a sense of kaleidoscopic propulsion, it feels as if the track is about to explode. Then the melody pulls back for a more emotional chorus. It’s affecting and atmospheric, but I wish the hook had a bit more oomph to it. That said, the transient nature of the song’s melodic structure allows the guys to tackle a variety of vocal tones that really showcase their versatility.
In some ways, I Smile’s musical sentiment hearkens back to the group’s February single, You Were Beautiful. The production here has a much more upbeat, life-affirming drive to it, but the song still feels more beholden to emotion than hooks. This is fine, and definitely plays to DAY6’s strengths, but I can’t help but wonder what I Smile could have been if they totally blew open their sound. We get a glimpse during the stunning, synth-drizzled middle eight. It feels like the instrumental catharsis the band has been building to, and hints at a stadium-rock future that I can’t wait to experience.