Album Review: Enter EXO’s Winter Wonderland

The juggernauts from SM Entertainment, EXO, has joined the influx of winter releases with a heartfelt ballad titled Sing For You.

Following Miracles in December in 2013, Sing For You is EXO’s second Christmas album since debut.

Five tracks bringing joy, jamming vibes and even a little gloom for the lonely souls out there – this album is worthy of endless listens during the holiday season.

Review

Track 1 – 불공평해 (Unfair)

Unfair is a fresh and comforting track to start off the album. The beginning sets the festive mood of the song with loud cheers and some giddy instrumental. Main vocalist D.O kicks Unfair off, using a lighter and delicate approach to his vocals. Xiumin follows and he sweetly chants about his beloved coffee. Then, there’s a change in momentum when Chanyeol’s deep half-sing-half-rap enters the song, Kai follows suit, utilizing that gorgeous baritone voice of his to lead into the chorus. OT9 combine to start, before Kai returns for a short line. Chen and D.O powerfully croon their way to our souls as Kai finishes the chorus with a cute “eomaya”. Baekhyun leads the second verse with his honeyed tone and snippets of falsetto. Suho adorably sings about playing games before Chen flaunts his vocal prowess. Maknae Sehun finally appears and he mirrors the half-rap-half-sing technique that Chanyeol used. Chanyeol raps to the verse’s finishing line. The second chorus features lines from Sehun, Suho and Baekhyun. Suho’s dreamy, prince-like voice leads the highlight bridge and Lay follows him with his first lines. Chen’s light and fluffy like marshmallow vocals resurface before Xiumin speaks to fans like he’s on the phone. The final chorus features Chen belting his adlibs and Baekhyun bursting out of the gates with his head voice. D.O serenades about falling in love with him and Chanyeol says goodbye with a “eomaya”.

Verdict: 4/5

Track 2 – Sing For You

This title track is well executed in delivery, vocals and instrumentals; one of EXO’s most sincere tracks yet. Sing For You starts with D.O singing in his lower chest voice tied into the saddening acoustic chords of the guitar. Chanyeol confesses that he’ll sing just for you. Baekhyun and Suho wrap up the earnest first verse. Main vocalist Chen makes an explosive yet emotional start to the chorus, triggering those dark feelings to escape from within us. Xiumin and Sehun end the chorus by sweetly asking for our ears. The second verse surprises as Kai’s deep, sexy tone enters the song. Lay follows with his tone exerting a precious feel and desire to keep on listening to him. Baekhyun’s resonating voice starts the second chorus before D.O and Suho conclude it. The bridge features Chen and Chanyeol’s beautiful low notes, along with Xiumin’s soothing ending. Powerful trio; D.O, Chen and Baekhyun emotionally serenades the song to a finish.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Track 3 – Girl x Friend

Girl x Friend takes the album to another level, as the tempo is faster and catchier than the two previous songs. An R’n’B inspired EXO song must always have the soulful king, Do Kyungsoo showing off his smooth, orgasmic runs at the start. D.O does exactly that and is followed by Chen’s sugary vocals. These two take listeners to Cloud Nine at only 19 seconds in. The vocalists harmonise a little Ariana Grande esque adlib. Chanyeol turns his swag on, rapping like he’s strolling through Gangnam Station. D.O confidently returns, bringing his bud Baekhyun along to end the verse. The chorus starts with D.O again exploiting his mellow voice to warm us up on a cold night. Kai and Xiumin exchange lines as a rapper-vocalist combo. Leader Suho and Sehun follow suit. Chen channels Ariana again before Baekhyun serenades about his gal pal and not Taeyeon. Chanyeol and Kai rap at the beginning of the second verse. Chanyeol coolly harmonises with Suho as D.O blissfully sings a few lines, showing off a rare bout of falsetto. Lay finishes the verse with some rap. Baekhyun sings the second chorus, while Sehun and Xiumin combine together. Lay returns, using his boyish tone at its peak. Suho and Sehun slows things down to start the bridge, as Baekhyun finishes with a couple of strong belts. Xiumin and Kai begin the last chorus. Chen harmonises lovingly with Baekhyun before D.O comes in for a cheeky run. OT9 sing along together as BaekSoo end the song.

Verdict: 5/5

Track 4 –발자국 (On the Snow)

This is a fluttering number that will tingle your insides. Chanyeol reaches millions of fans’ hearts just by saying ‘baby’. Baekhyun huskily delivers his adlib, teasing us to want more. Chanyeol unnecessarily asks us to listen as D.O drops the beat. Suho enters and utilises his signature soft and sincere vocals. Kai gets our shoulders swinging while Xiumin and Lay lead into the chorus nicely. Chen explodes his way to begin the chorus, setting fireworks and using his voice to form a Christmas party. He makes the song sound very Christmas-y here. Baekhyun beautifully finishes the chorus, using his pretty falsetto to melt every fan possible. Chen refreshingly leads the second verse. Rapper line Chanyeol, Sehun and Kai delightfully sing their lines and it’s a relief because rap wouldn’t quite fit the tone of the song. Xiumin finishes the verse before D.O delivers the second chorus; giving us a different flavour to Chen’s. Suho and Lay squeak out some higher notes as they conclude the chorus. Baekhyun, D.O and Chen glorify the world by giving sunshine to the dark and hopeless in the bridge. Sehun says, “You give me yours, I’ll give you mine” like he’s selling candy to little kids. Baekhyun captivates in the last chorus, as Chen effortlessly delivers his adlibs. The finish is an epic one simply because of BaekSoo’s gorgeous runs.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Track 5 – Lightsaber

Lightsaber is an EXO and Star Wars collaboration song that was released last month. It’s more of a dance performance number and does not really fit in the Christmas theme to the album. It serves as a bonus track for fans. The beginning features auto-tuned murmurs of “lightsaber” and actual lightsaber sounds. Baekhyun uses a darker, chestier approach to sing his lines. Suho and Chen follow Baekhyun but just maintain their usual bright vocals. Kai and Baekhyun harmonise together to great effect. D.O comes in and creates his own Star Wars fantasy before Lay and Xiumin honour the lightsaber a million times. The strong sounds of electronica take over the song, which would work well with an epic dance break but offers little musically. The chorus features the boys chanting ‘light’ and Baekhyun singing random adlibs. It gets rather repetitive after a while. Chen brings the tempo down with D.O making the song almost sounds like a ballad here. Chanyeol appears as the tempo quickens again. He raps super fast here and it is impressive. The second chorus is a repeat of the first. Sehun opens the bridge with his monotone rap. D.O and Xiumin harmonise the end of each of his lines. Suho vows to be EXO-L’s savior before Baekhyun belts out a vocal run. The ending chorus features some screechy high notes from Chen and Baekhyun in the background. The song ends by reinforcing the power of the lightsaber one last time.

Verdict: 2.5/5

krusty95

OH!Press’ resident journo

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