I guess there’s something about expectations that cloud reality to a degree that it’s hard to tell what is exceptional and what isn’t. Often times, being part of the reviewing world influences your listening experience to an incredible degree because you have to stand as an authority on the musical qualities of the album as well as be engaging and thoughtful.
As a result, it’s easy to start waxing poetic for something that is probably completely ordinary, if only because that makes for a better writing and reading experience. Sometimes I start reading too far into the music such that I listen to and pry apart the song so much that it’s in shambles and I have no idea how it looked in the beginning. At other times, I might even start stomping over an album because my expectations were sky high, the disappointment of the actual thing not being what I wanted is too painful to realize that it was probably a decent effort overall (ehm…my “Boys Meet U” review).
When I listened to Let’s Talk About Love for the first time, I skipped many of the songs within the first minute. It might be because it was late at night, but whatever the cause may be, it doesn’t change that my listening experience was apathetic at best. Subconsciously, I was even already writing a review to rip it apart. No song piqued my interest enough to enjoy the album or even consider it a worthwhile effort.
Good thing I stopped myself, for listening to it again in the morning and skimming reviews and first impressions, warmed me up to the album a lot. However, what I liked about Let’s Talk About Love wasn’t just a matter of enjoying the album, it was of an appreciation for what Seungri offered as a pop artist. He’s grown, and the music definitely shows it. So what was my real response to Let’s Talk About Love? First round hatred, or mediated appreciation?
The answer turns out to be a little more complicated than just that.
In my years of K-pop I’ve realized that there really isn’t anything called a “bad song.” The “bad” song is the one you’re not willing to put enough listens into to like. For example, I think “I Got A Boy” is a compositional mess, but I don’t think it’s a bad song. I’ve listened to it enough that my brain creates the flow and cohesion in the song that the composition lacked. It brings out what I like and dilutes what I don’t. Because of that, I’m no longer listening to SNSD‘s “I Got A Boy,” I’m listening to my “I Got A Boy.”
I guess Seungri’s album has reached that same point, where I’ve come to like album because time with it has covered my eyes (or should I say ears?) with rose-tinted lenses independent of outside influences. That’s not to say that Let’s Talk About Love was terrible before, because it objectively isn’t in the slightest. Seungri’s album was good from the start, with the only difference between this album and the last being that my perceptions of the new one have been all over the place in a matter of hours. Since I’m left not knowing where my so called “true” experience starts and ends, I’ll make my life easy and just talk about some of the songs that I liked.
“Gotta Talk To U”
While the song definitely sounds like a “Blue” remake, this is definitely one song that with multiple listens becomes more and more enjoyable. I hated the chorus talk-sing thing at first (which is why I skipped it the first time,) but the more I listened to it, the smoother the talk-singing sounded. In fact, the chorus is designed to be almost instrumental; to create a beat that would compliment the synth and drums such that the beautiful guitar line becomes the core of the song.
“Come To My”
This is the one song I really liked at first listen because it simply doesn’t try too hard and avoids sticking to a single motif ad-nauseum. The verses totally sound like a Justin Timberlake song we all know, but thankfully the rest doesn’t stay in that path. The cliched piano has to be my favorite part, because as cliched as that melodic line can get, it will always be beautiful and instantly likable. I mean, it’s cliched for a reason, right?
In any case, I’m bound to like the song as the one thing that Seungri is certainly brilliant at doing is crafting a pop song that can sell hackneyed extremely well. Some of his best songs, like this one, are beget from the most overdone pop song melodic foundations ever. But it works, it totally works.
I really love this song because it was the one fun dance song on the album that is as carefree and freeform as it is confident in it’s composition. There’s great flow and transition in “Yoo Hoooo!,” something I’ve actually come to see less and and less of in pop music and K-pop. Sometimes music just needs to be let go into the wild, and “Yoo Hoooo!” embodies the concept of being for the sake of being. It doesn’t hide what it is in flashy synths and stylized vocals, and it’s not processed such that you can tell the purpose of each component. “Oh, here’s the hook,” or “there’s the calm before the bridge…” are not thoughts that go through my head. It’s a song that I can listen to with out mentally enhancing it, changing it, or just over-thinking it, for I have no reason to alter something that is so happy and assured in its own skin.
After brooding over Let’s Talk About Love for far too long, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably a waste of time thinking objectively and pondering excessively about something that should just be enjoyed. While Let’s Talk About Love is a great album in its own right, I think I’m going to go back and listen to VVIP. I just might be happier that way.
(YG Entertainment, Youtube)