This is the third studio album XIA has released since his debut as a solo artist and with a single that grabbed me by my hypothetical balls, shook my around and wouldn’t let go, this is an album I just need to check out. So I will, right here and right now, together with you, my lovely readers.
Track 1 – Reach
Pretty, very pretty. But ballad. And long! I’m sorry, XIA, it’s all deep and dramatic and you sing it in a lovely way, but this is just way too much ballad for me to handle.
Track 2 – Butterfly
Gorgeous power ballad. But once again, ballad. XIA’s voice is lovely, and the story expressed through the lyrics feels authentic and like it is truly his, but I just don’t want to listen to ballads. I do find it more engaging than the previous track, but it’s not something I’ll be downloading anytime soon. It’s just not for me.
Track 3 – Flower (feat. Tablo)
This is glorious, flawless, perfection. It’s so amazing that I’ve already written a two-post-list of the week inspired by it that will be up in a couple of weeks. When the second of those posts is uploaded on March 25th you’ll get my sort of interpretation of what this is all about, so I won’t get into it here.
This is the best XIA has ever done. This song is amazing and the video is beyond stunning. Including Tablo was great, his voice and rap style worked flawlessly. I’m glad to see someone as big as Tablo support XIA like this because no matter how popular XIA and the rest of the JYJ boys are, SM just won’t stop screwing them over. The day I see JYJ or any of it’s members on a music show will be a good day. And that day better come. (SM you assholes)
Track 4 – My Night
Very pretty, very sad and very dramatic. Okay, XIA, I get it. You have a lovely voice and you can sing sad ballads very well. But what happened to the “Incredible” XIA? The fun and colorful dancey XIA? I’m gonna need him back. At least for a little while.
Track 5 – Out of Control (feat. YDG)
Yes! Finally! Here XIA is just bringing some cocky, dancey and just all around FUN music! And I love it! It’s catchy with a simple hook, and even though this kind of song doesn’t always require amazing vocal skills, XIA’s skills still shine. I like the inclusion of YDG, it added another element to the song. And is that Mandarin? I don’t know, but if it is, that’s pretty damn cool. After seeing how gloriously Yonghwa mixed the two languages it’s definitely a mix I’d like to see more of.
Track 6 – X Song (feat. Dok2)
Flawless! Amazing! Stunning! I love it! This is The sex song, and I’m just eating it up. It has all the smoothness and all the sex appeal that it needs, and is just an honest to god great song. Dok2 worked perfectly for the sound and he and XIA blended together in a great way. Plus he literally said “kneel down before me”. I think we all know what that means. I’m a big fan of how XIA sang this song, it’s both sexy and impressive.
Track 7 – License to Love
This is a super sweet and happy-go-lucky song that feels like it belongs in the fluffiest rom-com of all time. It’s a cute song about XIA asking for a “license to love her”, wanting to prove himself worthy of another shot after he’s messed it up so many times. It’s a nice sentiment and it has a calm and nonaggressive feeling that I appreciate. He acknowledges that he’s done wrong and puts all the power in her hands, it’s nice.
Track 8 – Musical in Life
XIA has by now stared in quite a few musicals (six, is it?) and here he puts those skills to good use. This song literally sounds like it could be out of a musical, and as I am a big fan of the musical sound, this works well for me. He references the actual musicals he’s been in and talks about how he’s been Dracula, played Mozart and kissed Elizabeth. But this song is also about the things he can’t do in real life, like date comfortably, and how he will instead do them on stage. It’s a very interesting concept and it feels very genuine. I for some reason can’t seem to find which songs he had a hand in creating, but I would bet that this is one.
Track 9 – Love You More
This is the kind of song I need to have up my sleeve for all those times when I know how much the stress and struggles of the world weighs on my friends. All those times when I want to tell them that it’ll all be okay, but I don’t have the words to make them believe me. And even if I can’t make it okay, I want to tell them that they can always lean on me. Maybe sending them this song would feel a little over the top, but if it really feels like it’s needed, you can bet that I will.
Track 10 – F.L.P
So much fun! XIA really knows how to make a song that makes me dance in my seat. I could sing along with this from the very first chorus, it’s easily approached and catchy and I can almost see the choreography. It’s heavily inspired by the choreography for “Incredible” but give me a break! I’m not the best mind choreographer! Also, just so I got this right, F.L.P stands for Feels Like Paradise, right? I really hope it does because if it doesn’t I’ll feel like a major fool.
Track 11 – Hello Hello
And we’re back at the pretty ballad. I get it, XIA! It’s all very sweet and pretty, but it does next to nothing for me. This is very soothing and would be lovely for a drowsy summer night drive, but that’s not a situation I often find myself in.
Track 12 – Hateful Words
After just the first line I knew that I wouldn’t like this song. I’m skeptical of ballads as it is, but this is the absolute slowest kind of ballad, and I just can’t with it. His singing is stunning here, and the at times stripped back instrumental really allows him to shine, but besides that I really don’t find this appealing at all.
Track 13 – Breath of Love
This is the album’s last track and it’s… yet another ballad. It’s pretty and all, just like the rest, but that’s really it for me. Plus the entire thing was ruined for me when I read this line:
I understand what he’s metaphorically saying, but I’m sorry what?
Out of 13 songs 7,5 are ballads. (I’m counting “Love You More” as a half). And that’s just way too much! XIA does ballads very well and I’m sure it’s something he enjoys singing, but this is just outrageous. I did absolutely love all the songs that weren’t ballads though, which makes me even sadder that I didn’t get more of them. The single is still one of my absolute favorites, it’s beyond stunning, but I’m also extremely fond of “X Song”. I’d say those two are my favorites. If you’re a ballad person this is most certainly an album for you but even if you’re like me and only like the occasional ballad, there’s still definitely some goodies in there for you too.
What do you think of XIA’s comeback? Did you like the abundance of ballads? What’s your favorite track?