Towards the end of 2015, first- generation K-pop superstar Lee Hyori decided to take a break from the glitz and glamour of the South Korean entertainment scene.
Almost two years later and about four years after her last full-length effort Monochrome, the former Fin.K.L. member is taking another stab at fame with her sixth studio album.
The record has more of an alternative flair, with songs that meander along folksy rock and experimental hip hop. Album opener Seoul shows that the time away has been spent on creative growth. The laidback first track is a good introduction to a reinvented popstar. Here, the songstress sings about the contrast between cosmopolitan and country life.
That mature songcraft (Hyori wrote and composed the bulk of songs) is a far cry from the sexy singer who once boasted that she could seduce a guy in 10 minutes. But the Cheongwon native proves that she can still do sultry, and it is evident on the title track and White Snake.
The song Black has a hint of bluesy country notes with the plucking of guitars and Western movie-esque melodies.
That bold experimentation doesn’t apply to the remaining songs on the 12-track collection, though. The tropical Love Me starts off with a promising reggae-inspired tune but becomes a lazy EDM mess at the chorus. That electronic aspiration is also sorely misinterpreted on Mute that features a hook that sounds like something rejected by The Chainsmokers.
The ballads here – with the exception of the tender Diamond, a duet with Lee Juck – are too bland for their own good. But one gets a sense that Hyori is perfectly comfortable being low-key at this point of her career. That confidence is something that only a seasoned entertainer who’s perfectly comfortable in her own skin can muster.
Kiwi Media Group