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[Album Review] Se7en – “New Mini Album” (*****)

2 Feb

I have an affinity for anything that Se7en does only because he contributed to my interest in K-pop. This is how it goes: Se7en is officially the first K-pop artist I ever liked. It was in 8th grade and my friend knew of my interest at the time in J-pop and asked me to listen to a few songs by Koreans. One was Big Bang’s “We Belong Together”, which to this very day, I DO NOT LIKE. At the time, she claimed it was a remake of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” and since I am a devotee of Mariah, I found it an insult to her honor. My dislike for the song may have waned over the years, especially considering my devotion to BIGBANG but nevertheless, I do not like that song. She also made me listen to BoA, who I liked even though the samplings she gave me were in Japanese.

Lastly, she showed me this song called “La La La”, and I was smitten. It was a laid-back song, very R&B, my favorite genre, and his voice was smooth. I liked it but I would have never guessed that he was the Se7en that I know now until I connected the dots a few years later. For the longest time though, and curse my Asian stereotyping (although ironically I’m Asian myself) for this, I thought he was Japanese. Anyway, Se7en was my introduction to K-pop, whereas Wonder Girls made me curious about other K-pop songs three years later with “Nobody” and 2NE1 and Big Bang both solidified my love for K-pop, which remains to this very day.

Admittedly, I do not like everything Se7en does. His last album, “Digital Bounce” was downright terribly self-indulgent, almost pathetically pandering to the modern styles of music, and left me confused as to what the fuck Se7en was thinking. I’m more forgiving of him than others, especially for “Girls”, his attempt at American stardom, even though I felt it was too un-Se7en like, and a little too American for my taste. Lil’ Kim’s participation irked me but Se7en is clearly a great singer in that song. I liked it.

Here we go:

The album opens with “Somebody Else,” arguably the album’s most pop-infused track that reminds me of David Guetta’s dance tracks. The music is distinctly YG; the song’s spare drum beat is fused with electric guitar sounds, not unlike BIGBANG’s “Stupid Liar”. This song’s parallel is Se7en’s “Digital Bounce”; a track that is deeply rooted in pop phenomenons and trends. However, while “Digital Bounce” feel overproduced, Se7en shines brightly in “Somebody Else”. He sounds so romantic and hurt by the fact that the girl he sings about loves somebody else. It’s a perfect dance track–unfussy and highly enjoyable.

“Angel” succeeds as a track because Se7en is youthful here more than anywhere else in the song. It’s so heartwarming and sunny. It reminds me of Bruno Mars fused with “Love Song” by BIGBANG. Its lyrics are swoon-worthy, something to make all girls feel really good about themselves. It’s such a fantastically uplifting track and the thing is it’s not even really trying to do that.The next song,

“When I Can’t Sing,” the lead single and the collaboration with JYP is a great track, quite reminiscent of lead tracks because the piano propels the song along. Yet, we never lose a sense of Se7en’s vocal mastery. Here he is wanting to know whether a girl really loves him for who he really is instead of the singer. Somehow, Se7en connects the emotional questioning of the lyrics with the earnestness of his singing, something Se7en has always been good at.

“That Guy” is quite a devotional track where Se7en lays out all his promises to be the perfect guy to a girl. It’s a great “Oppa” song and Se7en is believably romantic in his singing. It’s hard to dislike this song because Se7en is just so engaging as a singer. Like every great pop song, they all sing with upward motion–I mean their singing gets more passionate as they go along leading to a climatic bridge of some sort. This track follows that trajectory and it never fails to be loving and sincere.

“Understand” is the slow ballad of the album, although it’s not really that slow. The lyrics are quite strong, talking about Se7en’s lament for being the bad guy in a relationship. His voice is quite restrained during the verses but there’s a sense of regret in his voice. Even the orchestral instrumental adds a melancholic feel to the song. The best part of this song is its harmonization. The background voices in the back are so movingly mixed with Se7en’s powerful lead voice, especially during the last chorus.

“Make Good Love” is a killer love midtempo track with impressive English to boot. I like this kind of songs by Se7en. It’s very listenable and I love his vocals here, probably more than the rest of the album. I especially love the falsetto in the second verse because they’re so spine-tingling and swoon-worthy. Lyrically, it’s substantial with Se7en setting up the mood of the room first, then going on to doing the deed by the end. Similarly, Se7en is at his best at the end with his ad-libs.

Overall, this is a return to form for Se7en, a welcome return to where he was before “Digital Bounce.” It’s hard to imagine early in the year that I’d have an album that I cherish so much already. Every song is eternally listenable and fantastic. Here’s hoping for a fruitful year for Se7en.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Clarence

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “[Album Review] Se7en – “New Mini Album” (*****)”

  1. berry February 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    I loved this album by se7en so much i bought it immediately. Thats not something I do very often (the whole album or buying straight away). I loved When I Can’t Sing (JYP/YG collaboration!!!), though I actually prefer the Japanese version of Somebody Else (which was written/produced by Taeyang and Teddy). I thought this was the perfect way to remind everyone who se7en is and what he’s best at before he has to go into the army (he’s 29 korean age). I didn’t like the mini album last year, I just didn’t think it was him at all 😦 the only song I liked was Going Crazy (loved the music video – especially when I found out it was his longtime girlfriend, Park Han Byul playing his girlfriend) and Better Together grew on me a bit but not enough. Glad you liked the album and glad you’re back 🙂

  2. adognamedbang September 16, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    I can’t believe I’ve only discovered your blog now =(. A lot of what you write reiterates my thoughts perfectly so be sure that you have an avid follower from now on. I’m usually a huge Big Bang and 2NE1 fan, but a couple of Se7en’s songs have come up on my radar every once in a while. This review just made me fall in love with him once again because Se7en mostly stays true to his R&B roots which I currently need a good dosage of. The lyrics might not be abstract or arts-y but it’s actually that straightforwardness which really gets to me. Although I respect their whole risk-taking image honestly, there’s only so much of Big Bang’s experimental electro/hip-hop/etc. music that I can take. GD’s new solo album for instance forcibly took a little getting used to which I honestly think shouldn’t happen to genuinely ‘good’ songs. Thanks again for your posts, I’ll be looking forward to them!

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