Quick Reviews: Lee Seung-chul, Sunny Hill, and Roy Kim

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Lee Seung-chul – My Love

Release: June 18, 2013
Producer/Distributor: CJ E&M, Jinnenwon Music Works, Baek Entertainment/CJ E&M
Genre: Ballad
Reviewer Rating:

Lee Seung-chul‘s voice hasn’t aged a day; a marvel it is, rivaling the seemingly eternal youthfulness of Seo Taiji and Lee Seung-hwan. The transition to a softer style long complete, the 28-year veteran displays the same lithe tone and still-peerless prowess at effortlessly gliding across his high notes in My Love. The explosive performances of old are missed, but it’s hard to argue with a voice this tempered.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough to carry My Love. So firm is Lee’s commitment to easy-listening that the album hardly engages or evokes. Odd, seeing that most of the album is composed by Jeon Hae-sung, whose career started with Lee’s best album of this millennium – 2004’s The Livelong Day. Granted, that was before the artist started toning the vocals down, but even compared to later collaborations like In The Love (2010) these are much more watered-down. Part of it is the austere and mostly invariant instrumentation and part of it is the bland writing, but the largest issue is the simplistic, predictable melodies. Shining moments like energetic Run Way and soulful Wish (which is the album’s best treatment of Lee’s finer grains) speak only to what could have been.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. 사랑하고 싶은 날 (Day You Want to Love)
2. My Love
3. 그런 말 말아요 (Don’t Say Those Words)
4. Run Way
5. 늦장 부리고 싶어 (Want to Procrastinate)
6. Rain Drops
7. 40분 차를 타야해 (Have to Take the :40 Bus)
8. Beach Voice – Featuring Koonta
9. 손닿을 듯 먼 곳에 (In a Reachable Yet Far Place)
10. 소원 (Wish)

Sunny Hill – Young Folk

Release: June 19, 2013
Producer/Distributor: Loen Entertainment
Genre: Folk, acoustic pop
Reviewer Rating:

I’m beginning to think Sunny Hill members’ age is an asset. Hear me out. This group has run the gamut of styles, from wholesome R&B ballad to layered allegory and social commentary, and it’s done all of that competently. The transformation worked in part because people took them seriously – not only was Sunny Hill older than the typical teenage to early-twenties girl group, the members also earned legitimacy by penning some scathing commentary and being involved in their work’s symbolism. In Young Folk, we see this happening another way. The four girls (because Jang Hyun is still doing service) play the parts of fretting singles and flustered workers, and manage to be persuasive – they’re at that age.

The changed instrumental palette is helpful. Folksy acoustics quickly melt into place as Sunny Hill deftly navigates the polka rhythms and quick tempo. The bright melodies are hard to resist, and embellishments like Harim‘s exotic European folk instruments bring up the album’s novelty value. More enjoyable to me than the mere presence of these sounds, which we’ve seen in the mainstream from the likes of Secret and Dalmoon and Lee Soo-young, is the way they work in tandem with the themes at hand. Like in a dose of Bruno Mars, there’s a sense of profound appropriateness in hearing the frustrations and complaints – some playfully petty, some distressingly deep – of modern urbanites vented out over ukulele.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. 순정만화 (Romantic Graphic Novel)
2. 만인의 연인 (Everyone’s Lover) – Featuring Harim
3. 시트콤 (Sitcom)
4. Anything You Want
5. 모르는 게 많아서 (Many Things I Don’t Know)
6. 만인의 연인 (Everyone’s Lover) – Instrumental

Roy Kim – Love Love Love

Release: June 25, 2013
Producer/Distributor: CJ E&M
Genre: Ballad
Reviewer Rating:

I didn’t closely follow Superstar K4, but Roy Kim‘s tour-de-force rendition of October Rain was enough to make a believer out of me. No such powerful moment exists in Love Love Love, the twenty-year-old’s debut effort. Kim instead fleshes out the album with breezy, pleasant pop tracks, all self-written, that walk the line between ballad and folk. Here’s an artist who knows his strengths well: to accompany his deep, rich tone, Kim writes fluttering odes and lyrics that conversationally reassure and caress, often invoking verbs in hao-che for extra effect. While some songs seem to rely on arrangement more than others (When You Are Down with its driving drums, for example), these are strong compositions on the whole. There’s even a tantalizing future direction hinted in Don’t Know How‘s leisurely groove. Roy Kim’s star potential is overflowing – but you wouldn’t know it from how trimmed this album is.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. Intro (My Forest)
2. 이 노랠 들어요 (When You Are Down)
3. 봄봄봄 (Bom Bom Bom)
4. 그대를 사랑한단 말 (Let Me Love You)
5. Love Love Love
6. 할아버지와 카메라 (Grandpa’s Camera)
7. 도통 모르겠네 (Don’t Know How)
8. 나만 따라와 (Follow Me)
9. 12 o’clock

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the reviewer and not of hellokpop as a whole.

Agree or disagree? Or have a recent release that you’d like to see reviewed? Let us know with your comments below! Requested albums will be considered each week and may be selected to be reviewed in the subsequent week.

Sources: Photos – Daum Music

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