Because they debuted at such a young age, FTIsland have been able to consistently release music for twelve years without a military enlistment-forced hiatus. This is almost unheard of when it comes to male K-pop groups, and it’s positioned the guys as one of the industry’s staples. Zapping is their first album without leader Jonghoon, who left the band after getting caught up in the ever-expanding scandals surrounding March’s Burning Sun revelations. I can’t imagine what losing a leader would do to a group, but you won’t notice his absence when listening to Quit (관둬). The emotive power ballad is FTIsland by-the-numbers.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s been awhile since the group delivered a big ballad title track. 2012’s Severely is the template here, which makes sense since that has become one of FTIsland’s signature songs. Quit doesn’t feel as immediately iconic, but that’s largely due to the fact that we’ve heard its ilk before. Without a huge band presence, it almost feels like a Hongki solo track — even a sequel to his 2015 Insensible. The guys mix traditional, lighters-in-the-air rock with a symphonic heft, opening the song with piano and strings before bringing more elements into the mix.
This dramatic arrangement suits Hongki’s powerful vocals well. It’s always a pleasure to hear him let loose, and he gets to attack some satisfying power notes during Quit’s cathartic chorus. The song is at its best when it goes for broke. The snowballing pre-chorus is a rock-opera-ready treat, as is the dynamic bridge. During these moments, Quit approaches Jim Steinman-esque overload, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wish the melody wasn’t so repetitive. It has a desperate pull — which is probably the point — but I fear that the track’s constant pleading might limit its long-term appeal.
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Not to be a wet blanket or anything but I miss FT Island’s “FNC finally let us go hard” direction from 2015-16. This feels ultimately like a calculated move towards FTI’s far safer pop ballad/pop rock image that they had years ago. I don’t blame them for doing this, and Hongki is a great singer, but this could have been recorded as a solo track, or by any idol ballad singer. I realize I’m just a salty metalhead in a low risk kpop world, but those older FTI tracks actually pushed me to find (and support) Korea’s indie scene (which desperately needs more love). I know that a lot of fans seem to think that Day6, CNBLUE, and FT Island are the only people to have ever held guitars in the history of Korean music, and I wouldn’t actually fault people for thinking this if they got into kpop through BTS or EXO or the like, because I definitely thought the same! Anyways, this kind of got sidetracked but I really think there’s a market for disaffected rock fans who also like idol pop, and I wish they would bring that image back.
Anyways to finish up this overly OT and salty comment: stan talent, stan Loro’s. Listen to W.A.N.D.Y. and change your life for the better.
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I looked up WANDY Loros. That is some really chill atmospheric stuff going on there. I think I doubled the youtube views too. May I recommend Vienna Teng to you in return, say “Level Up” or “Gravity”.
OK, back to FT Island. Not really a stan, but for those who are I suppose this will do. I think as a non-stan, I prefer “Wind” from a few years ago as the chorus melody is stronger. Youtube helpfully autoplayed some of those heavier harder songs of which you speak fondly, and yeah they can rock. Their ballads after a while on autoplay sounded very similar; they may even be in the same key, and certainly the same tempo.
It does sounds like it could be a Hongki solo track, in the same way that for a while the lead singers of rock bands in the US / UK would go solo and release an album that sounded just like their old band.
W.A.N.D.Y. is a fantastic album from start to finish and I’d recommend listening to the whole thing if you only listened to the title!! There’s really a bevy of textures and emotions throughout the whole thing – it’s a bit long, but really worth the listen.
Also thanks for the rec! I’m definitely a sucker for heavy piano emphasis.