By: Claudia Siregar |

Not long after the release of his critically acclaimed first EP “April and a Flower”, Korean singer-songwriter Kim Jongdae, more well-known as EXO’s main vocalist Chen, has recently released his highly anticipated second EP “Dear My Dear”. Known not only for his vocal prowess but also his lyric-writing and composing skill, Chen takes us back to the past with “Dear My Dear”, in which he dabbles with elements of retro pop and influences from vintage British rock.

As the opening track and the first single off the EP, “Shall We?” greets us with romantic ambient 80’s pop-rock sounds. As opposed to Chen’s first single “Beautiful Goodbye”, “Shall We?” offers a more complicated, electric guitar-heavy production, with Chen singing airily over the music. “My Dear” is a more rock-leaning track, with an intro and guitar riffs reminiscent of tracks from Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head album and The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry into Modern Relationships album (evidently also Blur’s first album and some of The Stone Roses’ commercial hits). As opposed to his usual ballads and numbers with EXO, here, Chen displays his vocal abilities in this song in a very simple way – no crazy high notes, not too much belting.

“Amaranth” and “You never know”, however, are better at showcasing Chen’s vocal abilities as these ballads require even more vocal versatility. While “Amaranth” is a more modern acoustic guitar-based, dramatically-built-up ballad, similar to the cafe pop number “Hold you tight”, “You never know” is a sweet, vocal-centric piano pop track with minor jazz influences, taking you back to the 60s. Finally, we have “Good night”, an acoustic track in which Chen goes back to his relaxing, airy vocal style.

The major takeaway from “Dear My Dear” is that Chen has shown that it is possible to showcase one’s vocal abilities while experimenting with different sound elements at the same time. While his focus on “April and a Flower” was showing off powerful vocals through power ballads such as “Flower”, “Beautiful Goodbye”, “Love Words”, and “I’ll Be There”, in “Dear My Dear” Chen decides to focus on his versatility as both a vocalist and a musician exploring past sounds.

Rating: 9.1/10

Favourite track: My Dear

Listen to Dear My Dear here:

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