We had hoped that White Night would be a return to the R&B Taeyang that we have loved since the days of A Fool’s Only Tears–and we do get that–but we ended up with something that shows just how much he has grown in the last eight years as well.
Vocally, the singer does a lot of stepping out of his comfort zone without stressing the bounds of his abilities or making the audience feel uncomfortable and it absolutely works. Songs like Wake Me Up, Ride, and Tonight show what Taeyang’s voice is really capable of in different ways. Wake Me shows his diversity in style with its more pop/rock-based production and level progressions that make it incumbent on the singer to do the emoting and make the track rise and fall with his tone. Ride gives us the cool, laid-back singer that can surf the beat with ease. Tonight gives us what we think of as him at his best when he’s on stage in concert…cutting loose and letting those strong adlibs and color vocals flow.
One of things we did notice is that, despite the number of tracks on this set, the total runtime is incredibly short. Coming in at just over 26 minutes, this does really feel like it’s over before it even starts. Not that this is particularly a bad thing–there’s nothing more boring than a project that overstays its welcome–but songs like Wake Me Up and Ride feel somewhat incomplete in their execution, almost like they were cut off instead of coming to a natural end. This isn’t a constant over the entire album, but is something that makes it feel a little rushed.
Lyrically, this is pretty solid. On the downside, Amazin’ needs a better chorus as the repetition of a single word is just not working for the track. This is something that persists across the set and seems to be more a function of Taeyang’s personal writing style (he wrote every song on the set and had very little contribution from the in-house professionals like Teddy) as Empty Road and Wake Me Up also suffer from this, but it is extremely noticeable on Amazin‘ and just makes the song fall flat. On the plus side, tracks like Darling and Wake Me Up show how his more casual, story-based writing style give his songs a level personality that can be missing from a lot of songs that are more poetic or general in nature. You feel like he’s connected to his tracks in a way that sells them to you and makes you feel like he’s giving you a peak into his mind.
Part of the reason that Big Bang works as a group is that each member brings something different to the table. They are not one of the groups known for their harmonies and overall melding of voices, which should kill them in terms of sound, but they still manage to support each other by balancing each other out. It is clear now (if it wasn’t before) that Taeyang is the aspect of soul and emotional color that helps personalize their music.
Our favorite tracks are Ride, Naked, and Tonight. The most skippable tracks is Amazin’.