This is yet another obscure album for me to review but when I enjoy a song I go and listen to the album. My decision to actually write a review on said album is a bit of a toss up as I don’t really have a criteria for what I do and don’t write reviews on. Most of the time I’ll do album reviews for popular albums (as well as film a first listen and upload on my YouTube channel) but for the rest of the albums I write reviews on is because I either really liked it and think people need to check it out or thought is was a little average. I would never write an album review because it’s particularly bad but more because my high expectations weren’t met.
Any way…. I have a lot of things to say about this album – some great and some ok – but I genuinely think people should listen to this album and pay attention to this artist.
ALBUM: Welcome to My Hometown
Released on 26th January, 2018, sing-songwriter RYANs very first full length album Welcome to My Hometown packs a punch with an impressive 13 tracks. For a first album of a Korean artist it’s very long so I was excited to hear the whole thing. He also released this album with title track ‘Hometown’ which is the main reason for my interest in listening to the whole thing as it was nice enough to capture my attention but also different enough to keep it.
Because this album does have a lot of tracks I had to pay extra attention to how each song sounded individually as well as together so I have managed to come up with a few things I noticed.
This album almost entirely fits into the hip hop/electronic genre with the odd appearance of funk. I’m definitely used to an album being predominantly in one of those two genres so it’s very unique an album would use both music styles so consistently. I do like this fresh approach as I find his voice has similarities to artist like Dean, Crush and Ven so having a different style of music to accompany this voice makes him stand apart from them more.
I really enjoy a slow jam R&B song and this album is full of it with tracks ‘Role Model’ and ‘U Turn’ leaning more towards this style. I do have a few favourite slow songs as well with tracks like ‘Digital Doorlock’, ‘That’s No’ and ‘Deep Breath’ as they each had their own special and endearing parts which stole my attention more while still maintaining a nice balance of vocal vs. music.
There were also a few funk-based songs like ‘Go Easy’, ‘Willy Wonka’s Home’ and ‘Good Time’ which, although great individually, often left me scratching my head at their randomness and their ability to be cohesive on the album. I do enjoy a little variety on an album but to me they sounded a little too detached from the slower songs but as solo songs, I did like them.
This album also had a few really unique songs. I did mention earlier the title track ‘Hometown’ which showed enough artistry to make me check out this album in the first place. While the song starts off slow and has a distinct hip hop feel, it quickly turns a total 180 and becomes extremely hectic and extremely electronic. I do enjoy a beat or tempo change in a song and this one had it all. Out of all the tracks on the album I think this one is the best for a title song as it shows both sides of RYAN.
The other really unique song is ‘Lucid Dream’ which coincidentally enough lives up to its name – it is 100% dream-like. While the verses are muted and there’s heavy use of echoing on the vocals and music, the chorus flips back to normal which something I wasn’t expecting at all. Because of the use of the different sounding verses the song took on a more haunting feel than what the other songs were which makes me extremely curious of the english translations.
While there are great songs on this album there are of course some songs that left me very underwhelmed and all for different reasons. While I don’t want to list those titles specifically I do want to talk about the first track ‘Intro’.
I’m interested in songs that are treated as intro’s, outro’s or skits as it’s a common artistic decision seen on Western albums and less so for Eastern, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear this one. I wasn’t prepared for was how long it was, though. 8 minutes and 46 seconds long. What I did like about the song was the amount of stems that were in it which only heightened my interested in not only the rest of the album but also in RYAN himself – artistically he seemed like someone I would enjoy. What I wasn’t a fan of, aside from the length of the track, was the amount of talking in it. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t really know what they were saying or I was just confused at how long it was, but I ended up getting irritated at it.
I did like this album a lot, some songs more than others, but I do think this album should be heard by more people. I don’t know how strong the traction for this album was but I really enjoyed it and I feel like I’ve discovered an artist who has an absolutely amazing amount of skill, talent and a bright future ahead.
TOTAL SCORE: 7.5/10