EXO has made its return to the K-pop scene in Korea, as the music industry slowly picks up its activities since coming to a virtual standstill after the Sewol ferry accident in late April.
EXO-K, the South Korean unit of the 12-member group EXO, released a Korean version of the group’s new EP “Overdose” on Wednesday. The album features five tracks, including the lead single “Overdose,” which immediately climbed to the top of major local music charts, and remained there.
The title track “Overdose,” an urban dance song based on hip-hop and R&B sounds, is the result of a collaborative effort between the internationally famous producers The Underdogs and the hit-making songwriter Kenzie.
In line with the song’s title, “Overdose” compares the passionate sentiments felt by a man who has fallen madly in love to overdosing on a sweet potion or drug. The song begins with a robotic beat, and continues with EXO’s vocals and hip-hop rhythms.
“Moonlight” is a standard R&B track in which EXO yearningly sings about a girl who loves only one man. “Thunder” begins with pronounced and funky guitar lines, later supplemented by various synth sounds and drumbeats.
“Run” is a bright and energetic pop song whereas “Love, Love, Love” concludes the album with dreamy, oriental sounds featuring various instrumentals including harp, piano, guitar and more.
Hunter Hayes impresses on 2nd album
At 22, Hunter Hayes isn’t one for subtlety on his sophomore album: His up-tempo songs (“Tattoo,” “Storyline”) race with breathless rushes of lyrics and fast, busy arrangements; his ballads are intensely dramatic, whether he takes on self-esteem (the top 10 country hit “Invisible”) or the mysteries of attraction (“Still Fallin’”).
The Grammy-nominated rising star is following up his 2011 successful self-titled introductory record by once again cowriting, coproducing and playing several instruments on “Storyline.”
To his credit, Hayes avoids contemporary country cliches: There are no pickup trucks, dirt roads or beer drinking in these songs. Still, even though the opening “Wild Card” boasts that he’s a crazy guy, Hayes could benefit from loosening up and showing some of that wildness on record.
That said, Hayes is an inventive country-pop songwriter and performer. He and coproducer Dann Huff cram songs with clever sonic twists; they even include a couple of short musical interludes, as if the other dozen tracks don’t provide room for all of the instrumental ideas. (AP)
Lykke Li hauntingly lovelorn
“I Never Learn”
Sweden’s Lykke Li delivers a full fusion of deep, soul-searching lyrics on “I Never Learn,” her third studio album and an artistic zenith for this talented singer.
“Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone” is a minimalist guitar-and-vocals-only track. Li’s voice strains in all the right places and pleads for love in others, meshing nicely into a raw display of emotion. The title track carries more production sheen, but retains an authentic feel as Li sings about falling too deeply in love.
There are no weak songs here, and the best comes on “No Rest for the Wicked.” Ghostly piano stabs echo until an avalanche of percussion falls over it all.
It’s a poignant song about fighting to keep a relationship alive as it tears apart, territory that sounds personal when Li sings it.
In the end, it is love that is at stake on “I Never Learn.” Lykke Li adroitly captures the struggle that one must endure to keep love at the risk of losing it forever. (AP)