Idol rock back IZ have been active here and there, releasing one mini album each year since their debut in 2017. None of their title tracks really sound the same, which has made it difficult for them to cultivate a solid fan base. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be writing about them now if it wasn’t for one interesting fact: new single Eden (에덴) was composed and produced by my ultimate faves, Sweetune.
Eden is an odd one. It’s a Sweetune track that sounds nothing like Sweetune, and it’s a blistering rock song that recalls nothing IZ have released to this point. Like a sudden slap in the face, I’m not sure how to process it all. While listening to the track, I kept trying to imagine how it might have sounded in the hands of a Sweetune-produced boy group — guitars replaced with bright synths, vocals layered into densely packed harmonies. But even with those modifications in mind, Eden is structurally and tonally different from what I most associate with Sweetune productions. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it’s very surprising. Brand name producers like them stake their fame on an easily identifiable, iconic sound — one that has been going strong for over a decade now.
Personal feelings aside, Eden is alright. In the context of K-pop, its heavy, guitar-driven sound feels pretty notable. In the wider world of music, this is a standard rock track, unlikely to make waves in any market. Vocalist Jihoo’s tone and presence come across as completely different from past IZ tracks – so much so that I had to check whether the group had switched members. His performance has a rough edge, throaty and commanding but not entirely distinctive. The same could be said about the track. It surges forward on raucous buzzsaw guitar energy, but its fist-pumping melody never fully connects. Of all the elements uncharacteristic to Sweetune, this lack of melodic punch may be the most puzzling.
The instrumental track sounds like it is trying to be a metallica wannabe, or some 90’s 00’s hard rock band. Then the verse hits, and it is a lighter rock sound. And both the vocal timbre and melody don’t seem to match any of it.
Once again, ACE Under Cover autoplays on youtube right after this song for me, and the comparison is not favorable for IZ.
This is weird because Sweetune have written some of the most rock songs in all of k-pop. I would argue that some of the 2011-12 Kara tracks are more theoretically metal than something like Dreamcatcher. Yet, now that Sweetune get the chance to turn the guitars up… they aren’t Sweetune? They’ve have been doing mostly ’80s boy group tracks lately – which is fine and dandy and I love it – but I’ve yearned for the return of MetalTune for a few years now, and I’ve gotta say I’m disappointed by the outcome.
I think the b-side “Hello” is strong in a 2006 Nell way, and Jihoo’s vocals come off really breathtaking towards the end. Which is something. But I still want a proper hard rock track from Sweetune.
This song is still befuddling me over a week later. Like, I hear absolutely no Sweetune in it? Even a pop/rock song like Sungkyu’s 60 Seconds has those trademark Sweetune melodies. This is just so generic.
Theoretically, Sweetune’s been doing hard rock takes since like 2009, so a true Sweetune rock track should be the best thing since sliced bread. I’m absolutely befuddled.
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