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[Review] Kim Hyun Joong – “Lucky” (***1/2)

11 Oct

Kim Hyun Joong keeps the SS501 releases going with his second mini album of the year. I wasn’t quite taken with his first release partly because I just have trouble believing him as a solo artist and partly because looking at him reminds me of how bad he was in Boys over Flowers.

Nonetheless, it’s a fresh new album and I’m in need of a new perspective.

The first thing you notice about this album is the rock and roll sounds primarily employed to lighten up the songs. The first song demonstrates this quite adequately. Do You Like That is a tad too short to be considered a full track but too long to be called an intro track either. Still, the rock theme of the song is quite alluring even if Hyun Joong can’t quite give the necessary vocals to make it a great track. In fact, his thin range mixed autotuned isn’t quite the nice contrast that I hoped it would be against the high-energy instrumentals.

The second track and the lead single, Lucky Guy, brings the same kind of energy that the the first track have. It’s a very fun track and Hyun Joong lightens up the vocals considerably. He’s very charming in this song and it uses little to no digitalization, which I appreciate.

Smile slows down the album a tad to bring an adorable midtempo track. The song features droplets in the instrumental, some fluffy strings, and hints of Spanish guitars. Again, his vocals are very bright and sunny, in the same vein as his superior track Kiss Kiss from the previous album.

Kim Hyun Joong is not the best vocalist and his vocal range is rather small but there are many tracks where his voice sounds just beautiful and perfect for the music he sings, like Please and Kiss Kiss. This album has I’m Your Man, a heartfelt ballad that displays his voice’s range from the midtones to the falsetto and stripped of vocal processing and any distracting synths.

The last track highlights Hyun Joong’s charms yet again. U is a very adorable mid-tempo track that features some very nice instrumentals. It has an orchestra feel to it with all the strings and the piano yet it’s also light because of the drum beat and Hyun Joong’s voice, which shows signs of urgency and longing.

Overall, I was expecting less from Hyun Joong considering his past efforts but I found this album refreshing for him. It’s not as maudlin as his last one but it definitely has its issues. The main one is the lack of consistency thematically. I thought it would be a rock album given the first two tracks but then it turned into just pop music. I would have preferred if he maintained the consistency throughout.

Still, Lucky displays Kim Hyun Joong’s thin vocal range to its fullest extent and it works for the most part. He exudes charm throughout the album that pays off in the long run.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

–Clarence

 

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