ONG SEONG WU – 'LAYERS'
1. GRAVITY *Title
3. After Dark
4. BYE BYE
5. GUESS WHO
6. WE BELONG
Singer Ong Seong Wu is back with his very first mini-album, 'Layers.' It has six tracks, including the previously released single "WE BELONG." He participated in composing and writing the lyrics for all six. And fans are noticing -- he topped iTunes charts all over the world with this newest release.
"GRAVITY" is the title track, and it starts out quiet and unassuming with a strummed guitar. But before long it gains momentum and tempo. It's interesting -- the contrast between the main verses and the decidedly effervescent chorus. The build-up in the bridge, before it reaches the chorus is awesome. And when he belts out "gravity," the song really reaches jam status. "Café" reminds me of nothing more than singer/songwriter fare, with a few interesting quirks along the way. It's where the falsetto is properly introduced for the first time. Interestingly enough, it never strays from the initial melody. That leaves perhaps a few surprises, but it also lends a soothing even tone to the whole song.
The first ballad we get is "After Dark." This tune has a rather easygoing vibe to it. We hear a lot of falsetto in here, too, almost as if the last tune gave him permission to use it. But he uses it to great effect and definitely evokes emotion here. "BYE BYE" has got to be probably my favorite song on the album. It's got suspenseful vocals, fuzzy synths, and playful air to it. Particularly when an army of Seong Wu's start singing in unison. It's a standard pop song, but the energy that Seong Wu puts into the chorus makes it a serious bop. Playful and seductive all at once, "GUESS WHO" is a jaunty tune with a guitar backing track. At least until it hits the bridge. That's when it becomes all cosmic and ethereal, and loses the tune somewhat. That doesn't make it bad it's just a little more experimental than I'm used to. As a matter of fact, he actually does this quite skillfully.
"WE BELONG" has this skirling synth in the background that really elevates this song to the next level. The devil is in the details -- it might be a minor thing to you but I can tell you that without that synth, the song would be kind of filler. But it's embellishments like that that I enjoy. "WE BELONG" is a previously-released track.
One of the things I like about Seong Wu is his willingness to get outside the box. There are multiple elements to the songs that make them work. And it's not entirely predictable where a song will go. And that, in and of itself, makes his work stand out. And people apparently agree with me, given his chart performance on iTunes.
Ong Seong Wu looks for a mysterious lover in the MV for "Gravity."
And that's largely what he does throughout the video. We get a shot of him submerged, apparently drowning, and then stalking through a forest catching a glimpse of his woman before she runs off. Then he wakes up, but he does the exact same thing. Each time the woman is elusive, but in a different way.
It's a risky proposition to keep playing the same moments again and again, expecting it to fill the running time. But the camera angles are so well done, the interplay between light and shadow, and the ever-deepening mystery of what's going on. But they pull it off nonetheless. And it's not like Seong Wu is a stranger to acting. He was in the drama 'Moments of 18,' so he should know what he's doing.
Everything in this video is more subtle than flashy. There's no energetic dance movements to keep your attention, no fan service. There are only the emotions of a man searching for his lost love. Though I'm not familiar with his work, Seong Wu did an excellent job here.
You're probably wondering if I enjoyed this. And I have to confess that I did.
MV SCORE: 8.6
ALBUM SCORE: 8.6