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Album Review: D-DAY by Agust D

Agust D


Release: April 21, 2023

Review by Aaron Oppheim

Agust D, most widely known as BTS' SUGA, has reached the concluding instalment of his solo trilogy. Unshackled freedom empowered by the moniker strikes clear as day from the first bar; "Future's gonna be okay, I look in the mirror and I see no pain (..) D-day is coming, it's a fucking good day."

Photo courtesy of HYBE

As if faced with an epiphany, unmistakable relief laces every syllable in title track D-Day and picks up quite unexpectedly from where Dear My Friend (ft Kim Jong Wan of NELL) left off on the previous instalment of the trilogy, mixtape D-2, two years ago. Where once was what if's and introspect in epistolary lyricism, there is now surety and exploration of hope, albeit cautious in a way that's recognisable to listeners of his work and mannerisms through multiple personas. D-DAY might come from Agust D, but the persona is so tightly interwoven with Suga of BTS and, most importantly, Yoongi from Daegu that the lines blur naturally and deliberately.

해금 (Haegeum) cuts right to the hypocrisy of both the kpop industry and society in general, forcing issues to the middle of the stage. "Freedom of expression could be the reason for someone's death" is delivered pointedly. "Could you still consider that freedom?" This narration resurfaces throughout the album on songs like 극야 (Polar Night) where a deadpan yet entirely disdainful delivery of "if you're not on the same side, we're enemies" further cements exactly where Agust D takes his stance.

In its focus on glitches and imperfections, 해금 (Haegeum) is essentially a self analysis of Yoongi's fear of corruption and falling prey to it. The music video, much like 대취타 (Daechwita) of the previous instalment, sees him restrained with hands behind his back, pursued and ultimately threatened with his demise while simulatneously being casted as the bad guy in different forms; the mob boss, the unlawful king, the bad cop.

What's truly interesting is how the bad guy, despite always facing their inevitable downfall in the form of the "other", keeps returning time and time again only to be killed once more – keeping the circle intact. Being betrayed and as a result, betraying others, himself and his beliefs; the same circle of fear comes back to confront Yoongi as he continues to face, quite frankly, unnatural fame and the clout coming with it.

Despite being well acquainted with spitfire ire and social commentary, the album embraces Yoongi, the philanthropic boy from Daegu whose family faced hardships he couldn't speak of, whose mental health and financial situation were continually hitting rock bottom, who wanted to keep his passion burning, no matter the cost. That Yoongi resurfaces throughout the album, most notably on AMYGDALA. The title references Sohn Won-Pyung’s 2017 novel Almond, a story about a boy with an underdeveloped amygdala (the part of a brain that processes fear and memory), and allows listeners an utmost intimate look into life pre Suga, pre Agust D, sharing parts that, until now, have been hidden away from sight.

Snooze features late Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Woosung of the korean rock band The Rose and is a glittering highlight of the album with its blend of cinematic scores, sentimental vocals and steadfast raplines. Snooze is a testament to what has taken Yoongi to where he is today, not only as an artist, a role model, lyricist and producer – but as a man that, after years of loneliness, struggles, being part of an extremely cutthroat industry – remains as gentle and kind hearted as ever.

Photo courtesy of HYBE

D-DAY as an album is a heart wrenching analysis of self where the use of a moniker allows for an exploration of self from a different viewpoint. Agust D, Suga and most importantly Min Yoongi all serve different purposes – but the one thing they all have in common it the unbridled talent and honed clarity that makes this album one that people can return to even when the fire burns out and the scars fade.

D-DAY is out now via BIGHIT MUSIC.

Suga: Road To D-Day is out now on Disney+.

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