I have something to confess: YG Entertainment‘s SE7EN has one of my favorite voices in all of Kpop.
As far as timbres go, SE7EN’s voice is my ultimate bias under the YG camp (don’t mention this to Daesung). SE7EN’s voice is so incredibly lush that it’s a perfect match for pop songs. Yet, there’s a certain richness to it that also adds an extra weight to his sexy R&B performances, which I adore just as much as his pop stuff. The interesting thing here is that as I was listening to his “New Mini Album“, I got a feeling that SE7EN was going back to his roots as a singer, focusing a little more on the R&B SE7EN we knew before he decided to try on an explosive pop-tastic persona. As if the whole “Digital Bounce” thing of 2010 was one crazy-ass phase that he needed to get out of his system. Now SE7EN’s back to being his good, ole’ classy self. In fact, I think that’s the best way to describe his newest mini album: classy.
“When I Can’t Sing” MV
SE7EN’s New Mini Album isn’t nearly as over processed and convoluted as “Digital Bounce” was, which I’m kind of finding to be refreshing the more I listen to it. SE7EN’s 2010 material was loud, electronic and infections (totally loved it), but SE7EN’s taking a completely different approach in “New Mini Album”. SE7EN’s not hitting you over the head with glaring synths and whistles this time, but rather letting a crisper production be the vessel to far more important elements in his music, like softer melodies, richer instrumentals and, most importantly, his gorgeous voice.
But did veering completely away from the extremely electro-pop style he’d been pushing for one and a half years work against him? In some ways, it kind of did and it kind of didn’t.
On the whole, “New Mini Album” focuses to resuscitate the old, R&B SE7EN by way of a shit-storm of slow/mid-tempo tracks. Individually, each and every song on SE7EN’s comeback mini is a beautiful piece that showcases the man’s delicious voice and YG’s tight production value. From the lovely “Somebody Else” that performs a fabulous job of molding SE7EN to a soft, pop style – to “Angel“, a track that gradually unfolds, first with a tame acoustic guitar riff, then followed by legato strings that swell in sync throughout the development of the song. These smooth productions are shining a very bright light onto YG and SE7EN, especially now that they’re both past that digitally jarring phase of 2010.
Yet, something about listening to these tame set of songs felt a little exhausting to me. The lead single, “When I Can’t Sing” (penned by JYP “for SE7EN“) came across slightly ordinary only because it was sitting among a cluster of same-tempo-ed, same styled songs that unintentionally reduced it to nothing more than a ho-hum R&B ballad. Maybe if I knew before hand that this mini album was going to be so drowsy it would have had a stronger effect as a collective, but that wasn’t the case. I went into this thinking “this is a new SE7EN mini album. Yay,” and expected something completely different. Not necessarily the over the top aesthetics of “Digital Bounce”, because I kind of knew that wasn’t going to happen again, but at least something that would bind SE7EN’s old self with a fresh twist. Listening to this mini, I actually get hints of that. The production value is mint and, as I mentioned earlier, these songs are extremely beautiful on their own and are a full display of SE7EN’s trademark R&B/pop style that I absolutely love. But as a functioning mini album, I think this is a little too lukewarm and a little too drawn out when it probably didn’t mean to be.
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