K-pop girl group fromis_9 returned on Monday, splashing down for the summer with its new album "Unlock My World."
The new release is the first full-length album from the eight-piece since its debut in 2018.
"It's our first LP, and we were determined to showcase good music with it. We shared a lot of conversations and poured ourselves into every small detail," the band's leader Lee Sae-rom said at the press showcase event in Seoul. At the event, they performed the title song "#menow."
"Unlock My World" takes listeners gives listeners a glimpse of an unseen side of fromis_9, Roh Ji-sun said, adding, "It portrays our will to unlock ourselves and head into a larger world."
Fronting the 10-track package is "#menow," which expounds on the bandmates' will to show their true selves.
The song's name best reflects the overall theme of the album -- me and now -- which the members together picked as the topic of their milestone first LP.
Lee Chae-young said the yearlong album production process itself helped them take a step closer to themselves.
"We focused on 'me' and the 'I love myself' for this album. We each reflected on ourselves individually and had some deep and honest talks with each other. Our teamwork also improved throughout this time," Lee Chae-young said.
With the new album, fromis_9 also diversified its sonic scape. From pop dance to R&B, electro-pop and UK garage music, "Unlock My World" taps into the band's multifaceted charms as musicians.
Sprinkling in their own unique flavors, some of the members contributed to some of the songs’ production. Park Ji-won, the sole lyricist of the track "Wishlist," also took part in the song's composition. Baek Ji-heon is credited as lyricist for "In the Mirror" and "Prom Night," while Lee Seo-yeon and Lee Na-gyung teamed up as composers for "My Night Routine."
For the last track, "Eye Contact," all members teamed up to write out lyrics for their beloved fans, flover, while Song Ha-young took part in the composition.
The new album also includes a special present from Bang Si-hyuk, the executive producer of Hybe under which fromis_9's label Pledis Entertainment is housed. Bang, who is well known as the producer of global superband BTS, is also the chairman and founder of Hybe.
Bang's song, "Bring It On," is a groovy R&B pop anthem that diverges far from the band's signature uplifting sonic style.
"Producer Bang said the song reminded him of fromis_9 and gifted us the song. It was a new sound for us, and we expect it to broaden our spectrum," Roh Ji-sun said.
Four sub-unit tracks also give a glimpse into the different synergies between the members. Lee Seo-yeon and Lee Na-gyung formed a duet for "In the Mirror" and "My Night Routine," while the band divided into two teams for "Don't Care" and "Prom Night."
Putting behind the yearlong journey of self-reflection and growth, the fromis_9 members hoped to inspire those wandering on similar path now.
"We all worry about ourselves. The members also had the same concerns and wondered how we could share them sincerely. This album is our answer to that question. We've jam-packed it with our heartfelt stories. We hope many listeners can earn courage from it," Lee Seo-yeon said.
With the long-awaited studio album, the bandmates are ending their long break that began last June. In the meantime, the group reformed into an eight-piece from a nonet after the departure of member Jang Gyuri last year.
The wait was especially long, as the group had marked a career-high with its last album, the fifth EP "From Our Memento Box." The EP garnered the band its all-time high first-week sales of 138,100 copies. The band also bagged five trophies on local TV music shows with the EP's title song "Stay This Way."
In closing Monday's event, Lee Sae-rom said she hoped to see fromis_9's heyday with "Unlock My World."
"Every flower blossoms differently, and for fromis_9, now is our blooming season. We've made the album with all our hearts. Hopefully, our sincerity and determination to open up a new door can reach a lot of people," she said.