Loud releases: Critic's pick among 4 choices

Loud releases: Critic's pick among 4 choices
Photo: Critic's Pick: Love In The Future-John Legend (top left), The Other Side-Tonight Alive (top right), Halftime-J.Y. Park (bottom left), Thriller-BTOB (bottom right).

Love In The Future
John Legend

IT'S been a few years since the release of his last album Wake Up! with hip-hop band The Roots. Luckily, Grammy-winning singer John Legend's new release makes for a soulful listen that's easy on the ears.

Boasting big names such as Kanye West as its executive producer, it's more slick and commercial compared to Legend's past efforts.

His smooth, sexy vocals impress throughout, and shine especially on the emotive radio-friendly ballad All Of Me, especially when he croons: "Cuz I give you all of me/ And you give me all of you".

Another standout track is Made To Love, a touching sentimental tune which puts one in the mood for love.

The lead single Who Do We Think We Are, featuring Rick Ross, which tells of the luxurious lives of hiphop stars, is an impressive lyrical effort. Love In The Future resonates - and makes you want to fall in love.

Format: CD, Digital
- Jocelyn Lee

THE OTHER SIDE
Tonight Alive

THERE are some really powerful lyrics on Australian pop punk band Tonight Alive's first single, The Ocean, taken from their latest album, The Other Side.

"I'm just waiting for the walls of my insides to come clean, I've been praying for the day that my spirit is finally free," sings frontwoman Jenna McDougall.

It might sound like a moral awakening of sorts, but fans of the quintet would know that McDougall penned the song to chronicle her long-term battle with eczema, a skin condition that results in red itchy rashes.

As someone who also suffered from the condition for almost a decade, I understand McDougall's plight. So the lyrics speak to me at a very personal level.

Tonight Alive, who wowed local audiences last month at the Shut Up And Listen gig - an ensemble rock show that also featured Anberlin and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - prove to be solid songwriters on The Other Side, their second studio album.

Tracks like Come Home, Bathwater and Lonely Girl are punchy and emotive. Definitely worth repeat listens.

Format: CD, Digital
- Tan Kee Yun

HALFTIME
J.Y. Park

PARK Jin Young, better known by his stage moniker J.Y. Park, wears many hats in the K-pop industry.

He is a veteran singer, acclaimed music producer and judge of reality TV competition K-Pop Star. And to top it off, he is the CEO of South Korea's leading talent agency, JYP Entertainment, home to top acts like Wonder Girls, 2PM and Miss A.

His new EP, Halftime, shows that he is still amazing behind the microphone.

Slick R&B number Had Enough Parties has a touching music video where Park, 40, reflects on the meaninglessness of stardom - all the babes, money and fame come to naught when one is old and frail - and questions the true purpose of his existence.

I also like Love Is The Best and You're The One, where Park shows off his smooth, melodic vocals.

He might not have the advantage of youth, but the years of experience definitely have given him an upper hand in songwriting.

His songs are introspective, not your run-of-themill K-pop fare.

Format: CD, Digital
- Tan Kee Yun

THRILLER
BTOB

OF ALL the K-pop boy bands who made their debut in 2011 and last year (such as B.A.P, B1A4 and Block B), I like BTOB the best.

The reason: The strength of these seven guys lies in their top-notch melodies. From Insane to Wow, their songs boast strong hooks and a distinctive sing-along quality.

But I was slightly disappointed by Thriller, the group's third EP. Although the title track sounds nothing like Michael Jackson's mega hit - which is a good thing - it lacks the unique personality that BTOB have shown in their previous releases.

While past hits like Wow feature the dudes embracing their retro side with utmost confidence, Thriller is all about posturing and looking cool.

The title track sees them at their edgiest best, with black leather jackets and silver chains. But haven't we seen these stylish outfits before on almost every other K-pop boy band?

Hopefully, BTOB go back to what made them so lovable in the first place - being good singers with good songs

Format: CD, Digital
- Tan Kee Yun


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