It’s been a hot minute since ONEWE released a record: aside from single ‘STAR’ in November, the band’s last offering, Planet Nine : Alter Ego was a triumphant album that both showed off the complexity of the group’s artistry whilst also arguably being their best release to date.
Now, they kick off 2022 with not so much a bang as an emotional tidal wave as they serve us with their most sonically cohesive album with Planet Nine : VOYAGER. The album’s title track ‘Universe_’ leads the way as yet another strong ONEWE ballad. For a band with such anthemic pop-rock songs such as ‘Eraser’, ‘End of Spring’ and ‘Ring on my Ears’, the band has truly got the knack of churning out emotional ballads as though it is a walk in the park.
The music video that accompanies the song cements the title track’s place as a winter ballad, with shots featuring many different facets of love as the band bundle up in winter clothes and celebrate their close bonds with each other as well as their loved ones.
Thus in some sense, the music video encapsulates not just the sentiments of the song but also the entire album, since aside from rock smash ‘Montage_’, the record is a full 23-minute tracklist of ballad after slow rock anthem after ballad exploring love, identity, and existence. It is here that ONEWE displays how their artistic abilities have progressed even more over the past year, especially since every single song on the tracklist features at least one member involved in its creation.. Whilst in the hands of another set of artists such a slow-paced tracklist might become tiresome quickly, each ballad holds up gloriously well on its own, with utterly heart-wrenching ‘Trigger_’ standing out in particular not just for its lyrics but also for the contrasts between the almost soul-esque crooning in its verses versus its out and out rock-ballad chorus.
Additionally, ‘Orbit_’ and ‘From_’ might be two of the most beautiful songs ONEWE have ever put out, with stunning guitar lines and instrumentals complemented by vocals that make you hold your breath in awe of the tenderness and precision of it all. Yet another reminder that main vocalist Yonghoon does not get enough credit for his skill that allows the melodies in every track to soar.
VOYAGER could not be a more appropriate title for this album if it tried; except the voyage ONEWE has crafted for the listener across the six-track EP is not purely external, but also internal. It is not so much a grand spaceflight that has you escape into the stars as opposed to a great opera that leaves you feeling like your very soul and being has been delved into.
Many of the great pop artists throughout history have at some point created an album that feels like they are completely baring their soul and thoughts to the listener; it might not be remembered as the album with the most hits but is remembered as the record that made listeners feel like they have heard something truly great and honest from the artist in question. Planet Nine : VOYAGER is such an album from ONEWE, and is an emotionally meaningful addition to a still-growing but beautiful discography.
Quite simply, if you aren’t listening to ONEWE by now, you’re sorely missing out.