Baekhyun's debut solo album 'City Lights' sent shockwaves through the Kpop community, topping iTunes charts in 66 countries. So, it's not hard to imagine that expectations were soaring for his second attempt. And hear me when I say: it fulfilled my every expectation.
After the chic and refined UN Village, we needed a song to let our hair down a little. 'Candy' is exactly that. It's a bubbly, feel-good track which maintains Baekhyun's signature smoothness with added fun. As the song's lyrics go: Baekhyun added a little 'sugar, spice' to his award-winning recipe.
The idea of a sweet-themed track is tantalising, but the best ideas are often squandered with rushed production. 'Candy''s lyrics however, say Baekhyun will change his attitude to 'mature cinnamon' or 'dorky mint' depending on his love's taste. This thoughtful lyrical approach leaves an even sweeter aftertaste.
The song isn't all candy and rainbows, though. The dark, almost reflective pre-chorus and bridge are the perfect savoury companion to the upbeat chorus. My personal favourite part is the post-bridge 'na na na's. It's rare that a Kpop singer can take their foot off the accelerator with a laid-back section like this, and 'Candy' is all the better for it.
'R U Ridin?' is more muted than Candy but maintains the title's dance-worthy liveliness. With muted guitar and hints of a trap beat, its beat complements Baekhyun's smooth harmonies beautifully. The bold 'ring ring riding' line stands out instantly; the song's lyricist Kenzie took a risk, but hit the mark completely. My only criticism is that I felt no need for this in the EP. 'R U Ridin?' shows a sexiness that is already in 'Underwater' and an upbeat taste already delivered in 'Poppin'. Though it doesn't subtract at all, I would be hard-pressed to say it added much to the EP.
'Bungee' is simply breathtaking. With the twisted vintage piano from DEAN's 'D Half Moon', Bungee offers the old-world mystery of UN Village in the most minimalistic way. These tickling tunes are by no means unique - they feature in hundreds of Kpop songs, including UN Village itself - but Baekhyun delivers them with stunning fluency. 'Delight' is neither edgy nor particularly adventurous, but it's not meant to be. Rather, this album reminds you that the reason why songs become mainstream is because they hit the spot.
'Underwater' is adult in every way expected of a veteran idol. From its plunging bass to the light clicks like drops of water, the listening experience is truly like venturing into the deep. The fact that it is a lament of a lost love also gives it a pathos that makes it deeper than a meaningless sensual track. Its lyrics are uncharacteristically touching as well.
"Your love was like what I needed to breathe
A rope to pull my two hands above water"
Poppin' has that burst of pop energy that made Baekhyun's old hit 'Betcha' so amazing. 'Delight''s other tracks describe enchanting romance, but Poppin' is truly a song to be enjoyed in a group of friends. That joyful party vibe offers an essential contrast to the songs that precede it. Evoking Justin Bieber's 2019 hit 'Sorry', this song's 'hey now, hey now's are so melodious that they feel familiar even if you're listening to them for the first time.
'Ghost' is as unexpected as its gothic name. Like the wild 'Psycho' from Baekhyun's 'City Lights' album, it reminds us that this EXO superstar has a dark side. After all, he's part of a group that released the horror-inspired chart toppers 'Monster' and 'Obsession'. With the EDM flavour of SHINee's 'Good Evening', this chilling track goes out of Baekhyun's usual style without seeming ill-fitted. However, I wouldn't say it achieved the shattering heights of its predecessor 'Psycho'.
I thought I knew exactly what 'Love Again' would be: an acoustic guitar evening track like those attempted by countless K-Indie soloists. I was wrong. Though 'Love Again' starts in that direction, its energetic bass guitar and choral back-up voices give it a variety that most artists wouldn't risk. As well as that, Baekhyun's sing-rapping mixed with a hip-hop bridge remind us of his pedigree as an SM artist. He may not be edgy, but his music is never tired.
The album 'Delight' was as exciting, versatile and attractive as the word itself. And most impressively, it was one coherent idea the whole way through - a rare feat in the melting pot of genres that is Kpop. As the 2019-debuted super group SuperM's leader, I expect to see years more of fantastic music from Baekhyun.
Kpop Review Café’s Overall Ranking: 6.5/10
Written by Krystal
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