Singer-songwriter Roy Kim made his comeback this week with the 'Blossom / Blooming Season' mini album, and fans couldn't be more excited to immerse themselves in the world of his buttery smooth voice!
After a string of smash hits following his Superstar K4 competition, Roy Kim was left in an exciting but challenging position as an artist. He's one of the most successful acts of the current K-pop generation, with over 12 million digital downloads to his name, which means each release he makes has a lot of hype to live up to. "Blooming Season" finds Kim both seizing his potential as a unique singer-songwriter, and operating within his impressive-but-familiar comfort zone.
The first thing a listener may notice upon starting this album is how modern it sounds. It begins with an organic take on the popular tropical house style. Kim's acoustic guitar makes the song stand out and gives the trendy tune a breath of fresh air. Roy's voice sounds distinct, and he shows range without resorting to over-complicated vocal runs. On this track, in particular, it's clear that he can hit lower notes better than most. The chorus is very "classic K-pop," but it's not a hindrance since the rest is firmly at home in 2017.
"Pretty You" instantly draws the listener in with a strong string section. The effective but simple arrangement allows Roy Kim's singer-songwriter chops to shine. Throughout the song, ambient sounds are used to create an atmosphere of intrigue. The songs' middle eight is extremely pretty and recalls Eric Satie's "Gymnopedie" to create an emotional peak. It's exciting to hear these kinds of sonic references from an artist in the K-pop scene.
The second title track, "Egoist," is rather safe. After the sonic experimentation of the first two songs on the mini album, a song like "Ego Warning" can only be described as "not bad, just familiar." That said, the trumpet was a nice touch, and makes one wonder what Roy Kim could do with some jazz stylings.
By the fifth track, the mini album begins wrapping up with a swelling heartbreaker ballad. Roy's vocals sound very sincere, so the songs come off different than they would from other artists. Even his least interesting arrangements benefit from his emotionally resonant vocals and songs like this recall movie soundtracks at their best.
Record-closer "Heaven (Solo Ver.)" is a bit meandering. The sudden use of harmonica doesn't add anything in particular to the song. This is another case where it might help Roy Kim and the Korean music scene overall to buck traditional ballad tropes because it's clear that the songwriting and melodies aren't bad by any means. With the album's close, Roy Kim proves that he offers a lot to the right audience.
Even though the second half of the mini album felt rather "color-by-numbers," it shows that Roy is extraordinarily talented and has an ear for arrangements. He definitely operates on the more interesting end of the talent show contestant spectrum because of this. In the future, it would be interesting to see him experiment with different emotions on his songs. Perhaps he would have potential with lusty or angry arrangements, considering his vocal depth, though it's understandable that these might not fit his image.
On the whole, this mini album is a pretty decent one. Roy Kim is supremely talented, and when he tries new things he truly shines. As his career grows, it's certain that his experiences and increased artistic freedom will work to his benefit, so if you like 'Blooming Season' then be sure to keep an eye on Roy Kim in the future!
ALBUM SCORE: 6.7