December is the month of holiday releases, under-the-radar comebacks and special singles. It tends to result in a hodgepodge of new music, little of which I end up remembering a year later. Duo JBJ95 impressed me with this summer’s Spark, but unfortunately their Only One joins the pile of forgettable winter tracks.
For me, JBJ95’s albums have been really hit or miss. When the title track is strong (Spark, Home), the b-sides tend to underwhelm. And when the title track leaves me wanting more (Awake), the rest of the album compensates. Only One feels like one of those late-album snoozers that goes in one ear and out the other. The song has a decent chorus, and smartly opens with its catchiest refrain. However, the entire instrumental has a drowsy, uninspired energy. The guys are clearly professing their undying love, but why must it sound so gloomy?
Most of Only One’s issues can be found in its uninspired instrumental. The track hinges on a repeated guitar strum, so melancholic that it drags everything else down around it. Trap-style percussion further drains the instrumental of dynamics, offering a skitter of brittle beats when Only One should be settling into a groove of its own. Kenta and Sanggyun try to wring some life from this maudlin affair, but it’s not an easy task. Kenta’s vocals are more strongly suited to the material and bring a redeeming warmth to the chorus. Still, this song feels like the quintessential lump of coal in a stocking. I love the guys (and a large chunk of their discography), but this is not the present I had on my wish list.
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