IU has bounded from strength to strength this year, holding court on the charts with both Celebrity and Lilac. She remains a constant presence seven months after the release of her album, but it’s time to tie a bow on her 2021 work with a new digital single. Strawberry Moon aims for uplift, and its dreamy, sentimental tone matches IU perfectly.
Co-written by IU herself, the track casts a calm, healing energy. I wouldn’t call it a ballad, but the instrumental never pulses with enough oomph to make it “uptempo” either. Instead, the sound recalls the early-00’s piano pop of Vanessa Carlton (remember her?). There’s a somewhat generic, adult contemporary sheen thrown over the entire song. It’s music you could enjoy while relaxing with a cup of coffee. For me, that description is usually the kiss of death, but IU’s soft, expressive vocal elevates the style.
With that said, I feel like Strawberry Moon begs for a more electronic edge. Give me icy synths or gorgeous, spacey arpeggios to counter the sweetness of the melody. Despite a compelling key change at its climax, much of the song threatens to fade into musical wallpaper. It’s very pretty wallpaper, and well-worth admiring while going about your day. But, I can’t imagine returning to this song often. I can picture it as an OST to a really great K-drama, drawing upon an engaging storyline for full impact. If I’m in the mood for a feel-good IU track, I’m much more likely to return to last year’s Eight or 2019’s Blueming.