A.C.E. "HZJM: The Butterfly Phantasy" (2020) + Final Thoughts
An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
We’ve reached the end of A.C.E.’s discography, at the time of this recording. After back-to-back high ranking albums, will they manage to pull off another 5? HZJM: The Butterfly Phantasy, right after the drop.
You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.
Hey y’all, I’m told this episode will post on Thursday but I don’t know what to believe anymore. Season 4 has been marred by the audacity of 2020 so don’t poke a finger at me if you don’t hear this until 2021. We’re going to keep trucking along and add my Final Thoughts to this as well -- I don’t want to make Season 4 any longer than it is already!
호접지몽 (Romanized: hojopjjimong): The Butterfly Phantasy is a mini album that was released on September 2, 2020. The HZJM translates as “a happy dream,” and I don’t know what that has to do with anything I experienced while listening to this. This isn’t to say the album wasn’t enjoyable, but we’re not in a dream sequence. There’s no illusion to it, based on lyrics. That aside, there is sound diversity. This just-over-18-minutes album has dance-pop, anthemic vibes, and R&B tunes that will appeal to a variety of listeners.
Unexpectedly, I had a hard time with this album. After the musical blast to the face from the previous two albums, I expected things to continue traversing the same path. As a new listener to these fellows, my expectation that they would be predictable made the unpredictability disappointing. There is nothing wrong with this album, I just needed time to adjust my expectations. The first track, “Golden Goose,” has a structure that reminded me of Seventeen’s “Getting Closer,” something that popular review blog KPOPREVIEWED acknowledged as well (shout out to them!) but again, assumptions about how it should sound made it sound loud to me. In fact, this mini-album was all-around loud to me, it’s what I remember most. Even the R&B track “Stand By You” seems to have its decibel cranked up higher than necessary. This album would not be the way I’d introduce new fans to the group, not in its entirety, but I can see how it could be magical for long-standing fans. They’ve been around long enough to hear the gentlemen evolve and this feels like a mature spot to end an era of their music with.
Therefore, k-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for HZJM: The Butterfly Phantasy is a 5. It almost didn’t make it during my first listen but the composition and quality is undeniable.
[FINAL THOUGHTS ARE UNSCRIPTED]
K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for A.C.E. 's discography is a 5. They continually push themselves with unexpected production choices and provide listeners with something to anticipate. They were under the radar to me but I’m excited to see what else comes from them. I’ll allow myself to check out more of their videos to learn about their unique personalities now. I work hard to keep myself from falling into visual traps when assessing music from artists I don’t know much about yet!
A YouTube playlist has started for Season 1 of A3Day and still -- still! -- the Apple Music playlist will be made public, as soon as I divide up these songs. It was honestly ill-planned to have made the show’s playlist on Spotify one long thing. It’s there now and I don’t know if it will ever be divided up by seasons like YouTube. Continue to check out the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify, as it features tracks from today’s albums and past episode’s artists, and anticipate links to the respective playlists within the show notes of episodes in Season 5. It’s a wrap! Goodbye 2020 and until the next episode, bye y’all.
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