Only a few months after dropping the declaration of adulthood that was Palette, IU released a new EP, A Flower Bookmark #2.
IU’s latest features six cover songs that takes the vocalist’s sound into bygone decades, delving into genres like folk and nu-disco to prove her worth as one of South Korea’s most formidable songstresses. Led by the mellow pre-release “Autumn Morning” and surf rock-disco hybrid “Last Night Story,” each of the album’s six retro tracks have gone to the top of South Korean music charts thanks to IU’s take on each musical style.
Paired with a bright music video that pins her as a modish woman suffering from heartbreak after a party, “Last Night Story” poises IU as the twenty-something she is, but does it with a touch of yesteryear. A remake of the 1988 hit by the trio Sobangcha, IU channeled her inner party girl to create the most upbeat pop track on the album, though it never takes that step to become a full-blown dance track. Backed by a moderate tempo and with a bouncing “oh oh” hook, the singer’s pouty, occasionally deadpan, vocals are filled with regret as she playfully bemoans the night before that led to her being alone.
Each of the other tracks on the album are similarly reflective, and all six have done well on Korean charts thanks to IU’s evocative delivery of timeless melodies and lyrical messages. “Autumn Summer,” a minimalistic folksy song, remains the most popular, closely followed on charts by “Sleepless Rainy Night,” a lilting R&B track that’s a remake of a song originally sung by Park Kwang Hyun in 1990 and made famous by Kim Gun Mo in 1992. Proving popular on Korean charts — it charted higher than “Last Night Story” — IU released a live performance version of the song.
The album’s other three tracjs are similarly sentimental and proving popular in Korea: “Secret Garden,” a cover of Lee Sang Eun’s 2003 ballad, is a string-focused mellifluous soft pop tune about moving on from past mistakes after falling in love, while “By The Stream” (also known as “Rapids”) is a mournful ballad by Jeong Mi Jo from 1972, and recalls the lovelorn delivery of IU’s vocals on her 2011 single “Only I Didn’t Know.” The final track on the album, “Everyday With You,” originally by the ‘80s icons Deulgukhwa, is an ambient soft rock tune, evocative of a lazy springtime day with sweet birdsong backing IU’s airy vocals.
A Flower Bookmark #2 was released on Sept. 22, three years since the first A Flower Bookmark dropped in 2014. It is IU’s second album of the year, and was timed to coincide with the singer’s ninth anniversary of being in the K-pop industry.
Watch the music video for “Last Night Story” here: