Album Review: Lee Gikwang – One

Release Date: September 4th, 2017

Tracklist:

  1. What You Like
  2. One
  3. 오해해 (Misunderstand)
  4. 꿈 (Dream) (ft. Luizy)
  5. Look at Me Now
  6. Trick (ft. Lil Boi)
  7. Only You

Total Runtime: 00:22:56

Recommended for: Highlight and Gikwang fans, people who like R&B with a bit of EDM, slow, sensual and dark songs.

NOT Recommended for: People who search for powerful songs, ballads or heavily vocal based tunes.

The previously debuted solo idol AJ finally came back finally with his real name, Lee Gikwang after 8 years. With a brand new mini album, almost entirely composed by him, Gikwang wants to present in new ways his personal music style, quite different from Highlight’s, but still pairing up with the producer duo Good Life. The EP consists of 8 tracks.

Track Review:

  1. What You Like

The title track starts as a typical tropical house or EDM song. A tune already heard many times, nothing too innovative or different from the usual trend. The sprinkled R&B style is there, so is the hook in the chorus that gets addictive when you repeat it more and more but the rest of the song, in particular the verses fall flat in the structure (especially the first one with the forced rap) and Kikwang’s voice doesn’t stand out too much. It’s all quite plain and the style seem all in all quite immature for someone who is as experienced as Gikwang. The bridge slows down everything and it’s a sensuous build up to the chorus.

  1. One

The sound of snapping fingers opens this track that seems to be directed on the same path of the title track. Though, this time, the verses are quite nice, more melodious (with no rap!) and the underlying piano gives a nice Soul touch. The slower build up seems not to belong in the song and it’s so misplaced that the chorus, despite being so average and quite dull too, is thousand times better than it, simply because there’s more rhythm.

  1. 오해해 (Misunderstand)

“Misunderstand” starts with a nice guitar work, and it looks like it’ll be a very moody track since the beginning. The random Bla Bla Bla before the verses and in between them had me a bit perplexed about its function, but it’s definitely unusual. The first verse, with Kikwang’s fast talking and languid singing seems to be a filler and only stall time before the chorus. This is actually quite sensual and pleasant, the best part of the song, together with the second verse that develop differently compared to the first one and it’s tied to the chorus by violin strings. A subtle but fine touch! In the second build up, Kikwang’s voice is a bit higher, but still remain very breathy and plain. For sure, this is a much more mature track than the other two.

  1. 꿈 (Dream) (ft. Luizy)

Now, that’s a proper intro. With guitar strings, psychedelic effects and a much more dynamic sound. The verses are very harmonious, even though I don’t like too much the second part of them made of rap. The chorus is the real deal with synths and a romantic, dreamy beat that replicate perfectly the title, plus the catchy hook “I want you, baby”. Luizy’s rap split the song but it flows quite well.

  1. Look at Me Now

This track is quite experimental. At least, from the beginning, the instrumental is unusual and the totality of the various sound effect and later the piano is something new and fresh for an album that seemed to go only in a precise direction. The somber locomotive whistles effect, in particular, sets perfectly the mood for the tune. The hip-hop/R&B style is prevalent here. And while the chorus is not that catchy and a bit disjointed, it’s definitely atypical, in a good way.

  1. Trick (ft. Lil Boi)

It starts very groovy and promising, and it proceeds like an R&B track, very sensual. Then it sped up in the buildup culminating in the playful and banging EDM style of the chorus. It feels like the ‘Yeah, you got a trick’ is gonna get stamped in your head, since it’s that catchy and slick. I’m not a fan of Gikwang’s rap-talking here but his voice is just right for this tune’s style. Lil Boi’s fast rap with the slow background music gives a slightly odd effect but it’s a good bridge with the second part of the song.

  1. Only You

From the start this song seems to be very classic. It has a retro feel, like it’s been frozen forty years ago and now it’s been melted to be brought back again. The starting piano and instrumentals are beautiful, and Gikwang’s voice complete them nicely, giving a nostalgic and sad atmosphere. The chorus fall a bit flat compared to the classy verses. The synths in the second verse are a cool addition and Gikwang’s vocal style is really elegant, especially in the second part with his ad-lib.

Review overview
Summary A quite listenable album with a weak title track. It's obvious that this album was designed to follow the current trends and that's why there's a lack of personality and boldness. There's some good notes to it in two or three side tracks that stand out as the saving graces, and the style is coherent from the start to the end, but in general the album could have been so much more with an experimental production.
3
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