The members of the world’s biggest boy band, BTS, have recently been taking the time to explore their own individual sounds. RM released an intrinsically relaxed EP, Jimin shared his versatile sound on ‘FACE’, and Jungkook released maybe one of the catchiest songs this year. Yet, now it’s V’s turn. Known for his deeper register, V’s first solo album ‘Layover’ is a cohesive blend of jazz and R&B led by the soulful tones of V’s voice.
For ‘Layover’ V collaborated with the company ADOR’s president and executive producer Hee Jin Min, who notably has been behind the immensely popular girl-group NewJeans. The girl-group have grown exponentially over the past few months and have been praised for their fresh take on K-pop and their stylings. This collaboration between V and Hee Jin Min seems ideal. It appears that V had a specific aesthetic he wanted to adhere to, a sound that he wanted to fulfil all so that he could have the chance to truly showcase his personal identity, his natural being, and his unique tastes.
First track ‘Rainy Days’ sets out like a lo-fi mix found on YouTube. The realism of the artificial rain, the soft jazz and a curious phone alert swiftly followed by the sound of typing all add to a feeling of cosiness and familiarity. But, don’t take it the wrong way, this comparison is not a bad thing. If anything it’s adding a narrative to the album, setting the scene, placing us in the intentions of the artist. On the first listen of ‘Rainy Days’, V was almost unrecognisable. His voice slightly altered, sounds soft, delicate even. From the offset, the switch from BTS V to solo V is indisputable.
‘Blue’ leans more into the R&B side of the album. Starting out with a simple guitar and muffled voice, the track quickly transgresses into a combination of a scatting drum and gliding vocals. V uses a repetitive chorus to infiltrate the beat, illustrating his fitting voice and matching persona. Similarly, ‘For Us’ slightly slows down the album, utilising neon glowing synths to gently drift around the forefront of V’s chorus.
‘Layover’ reaches its pinnacle with focus track ‘Slow Dancing’. Based on the 1970s romantic soul sound, ‘Slow Dancing’ begins with a distinctive bass, jumping around as a soft jazz intro calms it down making the bass settle to match the serene ambience. V sings of a typical love story, one lover pining over another singing words such as “It shouldn’t feel like this, hurts too much already.” Despite following a simple jazz rhythm, ‘Slow Dancing’ feels perfected, all components even down to V’s slick vocals and surprising flue appear polished and clean.
The best thing about ‘Layover’ is its cohesiveness. A trap for other K-pop albums, is the need to include a confusing concoction of genres making the album seem confused and disjointed. However, with ‘Layover’, V’s intentions were clear. He obviously had a distinct sound that he wanted to stick to, his vision clear inhabiting by his sense of self. The influence of jazz and R&B is evident and the execution is slick. Although it has been a joy to hear and see V perform alongside BTS, it must give fans even more happiness to see V finally explore his own sense of self and produce a high quality album that suits not only his aesthetic but his overall musicality.
Words: Abbie Aitken