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Chen (EXO) ‘April, and a flower’ Review

· C

As a die hard EXO-L, I was delighted to hear that EXO’s best vocalist, Chen had finally come out with a solo album, and I must say, it was everything I’d dreamed it to be. Heartfelt, catchy, modern, Chen created a stunning ballad album with his own contemporary twist that stole my heart from the first listen. I’d wondered whether it would just be a copy of SUPER JUNIOR’s Ryeowook or Kyuhyun’s revered vocal-heavy albums from before, but I was pleased to find that he brought his own unique touch to a tried-and-tested formula.

You’re caught from the very first second with the song Flower. This is a softly heartbreaking ballad that has the perfect mix of intimacy, strength and a beautiful piano accompaniment. Chen uses some unexpected notes in the tune, keeping you on your toes all the way through. It builds up gradually till it reaches the climax of the last chorus, where thundering percussion and Chen’s glowing vocals sweep you off your feet.

Yes! Next we have the title track, Beautiful Goodbye. You would think it was similar to Flower, but somehow this lilting ballad has a unique softness and vunerability that really comes alive in the awesome arrangement and his powerful delivery. Though this album really caught me, I have to say that in some places, he simply didn’t communicate that heartbroken emotion in his singing enough for me (at least, not as much as Ryeowook did in his album). I find myself wondering whether or not he can really identify with the experiences he seems to be singing about. That isn’t to say that this album is still pretty soulful itself.

After this we have Sorry not sorry. I was caught instantly by the gorgeous piano in this song, and the slightly sassy tune of the verses. The chorus has to be one of my favourites in this album, because you really get that feeling of being pulled up to his highest note – it’s powerful. I’d like to specially mention the soulful string interludes in this song as well. In this track, Chen delivers a solid ballad song once again, still with that extra sprinkling of modernity and charisma.

This is followed with one of my favourites, Love words. I love how he changes the rhythm of the verses up in this song, and the pre-chorus gets me immediately emotional in that way that any good pre-chorus should. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to sing along at the top of your voice, and scream, and cry, or maybe just close your eyes and listen. That ‘Saranghae’ at the end of the bridge is probably the 5 best seconds of this album – it’s madly romantic and you find yourself awaiting that moment in each listen. The abrupt ending is perhaps a little jarring, but refreshing nonetheless.

I’ll be there, though beautiful and lilting like the others, maybe feels a little repetitive: do I wish that Chen had changed things up a little more in this album? It’s nice in its own right, it’s just that after such incredible and similar songs, it feels a little unnecessary. It still has that Disney-style romance and unbelievable vocal power that Chen has nailed in this album, though.

Finally, another favourite of mine: Portrait of you. The catchy and deliciously different slightly jazzy sound that begins this song is a much needed tangy and exciting taste after so many sweet serenades. The chorus itself is very nice, but the piano interlude in this song really wins the award in this song. It really is a perfect finish to an unforgettable solo debut.

Kpop Review Cafe’s Overall Album Ranking: 6/10

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Written by Krystal