K.R.Y. was the first official subgroup of Super Junior that was founded almost fourteen (!) years ago. In all this time, however, they have never had a Korean album they could call themselves. It seems silly to use the word "debut" when it comes to industry veterans. But in a way, When We Were Us (푸르게 빛나던 우리 의 계절) is a quasi-debut for this trio of Kyuhyun, Ryeowook and Yesung. At least it's a well-deserved reunion, as at least one of them has been drafted into the military at some point in recent years.
As expected, the boys returned with the style they deliver best – a good, old-fashioned Korean ballad. I can imagine that this will delight fans as the arrangement of the piano and strings matches the solo releases of each member very well. When We Were Us reminds me in particular of Kyuhyun's solo work. Maybe it's because he opens the track, but I immediately had flashbacks to At Gwanghwamun (still my best solo ballad in my opinion). This familiarity brings with it a feeling of nostalgia, which makes for a group with as much history as K.R.Y. is a smart move.
As far as the song itself is concerned, all criteria are met without anything new coming up on the table. Ballad lovers will be thrilled, especially as the route reaches its inevitable climax. There is a great vocal interplay with a harmonized power note that is definitely impressive. But overall there is nothing here that I could not achieve through other releases in the Super Junior universe. When We Were Us is not a new breakthrough, but a comfort blanket. And think about it, a lot of us could probably use that now.
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