Jun 18, 2014

Taeyang Is Back In The Most Glorious Way Possible With "Rise"

When I first got into Kpop, the YG groups were the ones that I was introduced to. It's not that strange at all because they are very popular internationally, especially in the western world, so Big Bang and 2ne1 were certainly at the top of my playlist at that time. As of right now though, I'm really not a YG person in any way. I mean, I like the acts and their music and I'm really excited about Winner's upcoming debut, but I just can't get into any of them. This being said, I have listened very little to any of Taeyang's previous solo material except the classics "I Need a Girl" and "Wedding dress". However, I liked the title track a lot for his new album so I thought I'd give it a try, and boy was I pleasantly surprised.

The album opens with an almost 2 minute long intro titled just that: Intro (RISE). Very creative, I must say. Despite its lackluster name, the song succeeds in other areas. It's entirely in English and I have to applaud Taeyang on his pronunciation, but I do know he has a good grip on the language so it's not too surprising. It's a great song and I wish it could have been even longer, but it works as an intro too. The lyrics are strong and powerful, as Taeyang speaks of rising to the sky and proving people who doubt and dismiss you wrong. It's a song of freedom and youth, and I think a lot of younger people will like like it, including myself. 

It's not so often that idol groups choose ballads as title tracks unless they're a confirmed ballad group (like 2AM or Davichi), so this was certainly not expected from a YG artist. Especially when you think about his single from last year, Ringa Linga, which was pretty much the exact opposite. Eyes, Nose, Lips is not precisely the "standard" title track with electronic sounds and catchy hooks, it's much much better. Yes, this is a ballad, but it's not a typical Kpop style ballad. Most of then generally sound like OST's, and I'm not a big fan of them because they tend to be very dramatic and over the top in terms of vocals and instrumentals. This however, is a ballad done in a more contemporary way. Taeyang's voice is just so pretty and he really makes the song come to life without overdoing it. The lyrics are great, the background music is perfect and the structure is as good as it can be. Even though it's a slower track, it manages to leave a big impact nonetheless, and stuns in the most simplistic but beautiful way possible. The follow up track is 1AM, and this is more the song you would expect Taeyang to put out. It's a bit faster in tempo, it has that nice, laid back groove to it and definitely feels like a song not any Kpop star could do as well as Big Bangs' resident ab-flasher. The lyrics are a bit bittersweet, and reflects a man's confusion after a break up. He doesn't know what to do and tries various methods to forget about his lost lover, but no matter how much he drinks or dances when the clock strikes 1 AM, he thinks about her anyway.

The next track on Taeyang's new album features bandmate and good friend G-Dragon, but is it really that way? Judging from the line distribution, it seems as if it just as well could have been the other way around. GD raps and sings the majority of the song as he has the verses all to himself, and he does a great job, but I would have wanted Taeyang to be a bit more active considering it's his song after all. Anyhow, the song itself has the same type of YG sound that's so distinct, and combines both sexy rapping and smooth R&B sounds in a great mixture. Following Stay with Me is Body, the only song on this album that I'm still not feeling quite yet. I think it is a song of potential, but it is badly put together unfortunately. The verses are funky and fresh, but the monotone singing in the chorus just doesn't do it for me. Also, the lyrics made me react a bit as they go "I got that body, You got that body. Now you and me let's make somebody". I don't know if it's intentional or not, but if it is then that's a very frank statement. It is quite funny, though. I have to admit, when Ringa Linga was released last fall I was not a huge fan of it. My main problem was that I didn't think that it was a song that Taeyang should be doing. What I knew about him was that he was the king of R&B, sexy dance moves and sweet love songs, and this just felt like a G-Dragon song. Not so peculiar though, since the song was written by GD, but it didn't fit the image I had of Taeyang as an artist. However, as time has passed I have really started to like it. It's one of those songs that you just want to loose yourself in on the dancefloor, and the combination of heavy electronic instruments and epic piano breakdowns has a powerful and memorable effect.

Following the visit to the club, Taeyang slows it down once again for This Ain't It. It's another ballad, and for such a short album it might seem like one too many, but this is actually my favorite song on it. Taeyang's melodious voice sounds beautiful as he sings about a painful heartbreak. The lyrics are heartfelt and emotional and the continuous repetition of the lines "this isn't it" and "this can't be it" are definitely relatable for someone who's been going through a similar experience. Fellow labelmate Tablo of Epik High is the man behind the lyrics for Throw Away, a rockier mid-tempo song that in my opinion feels slightly out of place on the album. I really like the lyrics, but I just can't seem to get into any other part of it. My main issue is that while the verses sound fine and the beginning of the song is definitely likable, the chorus comes as a bit of a disappointment. Once again it shows the importance of sticking to either minor or major chord structures, not switching between the two. "Rise" finishes with the lovely Love You To Death, and once again Tablo contributes with the lyrics for the track. A lot of people seem to name this their favorite song, and it's easy to understand why. The background music is minimal and simple, and the bass plays a prominent factor for the song's hard hitting pulse. CL of 2ne1 features near the end of the song, and while I think Taeyang could've sung the part as well, the sound of a female voice really compliments the songs vibe and helps building the last bridge before the final chorus. Overall, it's a great song that most certainly gets stuck in your head, and also shows that sometimes less is indeed more.

Being the first solo album of Taeyang's that I've listened to, I am definitely impressed by it. It showcases him both as a versatile artist that can handle many different genres and as a genuine vocalist with maturity and emotion in his vocal delivery. He truly has a beautiful voice, and it's one of those voices that easily could gain recognition and popularity in other parts of the world. YG has always been pretty internationalized, and definitely more now than every thanks to Psy, so the conclusion I can draw from the album is that it's much more than a standard Kpop album. I mean, all the songs are unique and distinct, the ballads are actually fantastic and the lyrics are complex and telling. Though I have been wondering whether it's too short to be called a "full length" album since there's only 9 tracks on it, but it clearly still works even though I would have wanted a few more songs. To conclude: it's a rock solid release packed with amazing tracks and Taeyang sounds like perfection whilst singing them. 

Highlights: Eyes, Nose, Lips , 1AM, Stay With Me, This Ain't It
Least Favorite: Body
Total Score: 4,5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment