Henry Lau recently debuted last year in 2013 as SM Entertainment’s most recent solo artist since 13 years. Since first appearing in 2007 with Super Junior‘s second album Don’t Don as the mysteriously talented violinist in the bridge of the song, Henry’s popularity and talent was first recognised and admired by many. Since then he along with fellow Chinese member Zhoumi along with five members of Super Junior debuted as Super Junior-M to produce music for their large fanbase in China. Following this, alongside being still a part of SJ-M, it is clear Henry had been given his moment to shine with the beginning of his solo career and his first mini album: Trap on 2013 with Kyuhyun of Super Junior and Taemin of Shinee featuring in the title song.
Hence at the start of July SM announced plans for his comeback and last week Henry launched his second mini album: Fantastic surpassing expectations of Strings eagerly waiting for his new album!
Henry’s mini album dazzles all music lovers as he continues the busy year of comebacks with an outstandingly varied album with a wondrous combination of genres with each of the six songs included within the album. Fantastic truly shows it’s colours with its mix of R&B, funk, soft ballads, pop and dance numbers it is an album that succeeds in appealing to all tastes in music no matter what genre you’re into.
Thematically, Henry takes a slightly more mature style to this album. the suit and tie theme along with the slight boyish hip hop angle to Henry’s look administers a certain edge to this album. This along with the creative input from Henry’s playing of the violin suits the theme perfectly enhancing Henry’s well known advanced skills and talent for the instrument, making a great follow up from his advanced skills for playing the piano as seen in the previous mini album Trap, particularly with it’s complicated introduction. Overall it is both an artistic and creative mini album from the solo singer, that which all listeners would enjoy listening to.
For the duration of this album and through comebacks Henry displays a sense of maturity to the musical aspects of his songs. With almost the entire album being produced by Henry’s very own production team: Noizebank, it is clear much of the effort placed into this album came from the artist himself. Incorporating his own instruments as well as composing the music has placed success in this album’s musical quality and potential showcasing a range of styles proudly. From past songs Henry and Noizebank have produced for a few Super Junior and Super Junior-M music it is clear this album is nothing far from likeable.
The Music of Fantastic itself as the main title song of the album and concept suits its title rather adequately. The beginning on a crescendo from the violin then with a sudden burst allows a wonderful climatic build up to the song’s official start. The verses although could be perceived as mediocre, should not disguise its flair. The quirky ‘oooh’s‘ add a unique element to the song, making it all the more so dramatic alongside the violins. Hence the wonderful accompaniment of a violin for the duration of the bridge before the chorus suits the dramatic atmosphere perfectly. This which Henry here indeed plays himself (one he hinted he was recording with on Instagram) adds the smooth but stylish sound much needed to this track making it one which overall sounds both unique and creative to the ear making instantly an interesting song. Fantastic is really rather… fantastic!
The Lyrics of the song have a feeling that truly tap into Henry’s as well as any person who is new to love or falling in love itself. The relatable meaning of the lyrics ‘I was so immature
A child, who didn’t know what love is‘ voice the words of a boy transcending from a boy to a man when it comes to realising what love truly means to himself and the person who has changed his mind. The lyrics ‘you make me reborn into a real man, you, who called my name‘ are a true representation of the song itself and the determination of the singer to change to become a better person; one full of gratitude for his love.
The Music Video set in the illusion of a violin represents this in Henry’s own style interestingly. Henry here show his transition from being a boy dressed in a cap and shorts addicted solely to his instrument, allowing it control his life and interests all the while the love of his life is looming over him the whole time. As he closes his eyes when placing his hands upon the girl, he slowly begins to understand what she really means to him; he’s found that connection to her heart, thus the connections from his violin to himself disappear and turn into the girl he loves. His life, rather romantically, becomes devoted only to her now.
You can watch the music video here!
2. Bad Girl (Feat. Chanyeol of EXO)
Bad Girl out of the entire album would be my personal favourite here, as most listeners of the album have likewise found. The swing style incorporated with the smooth trumpets creates a wonderful relaxing atmosphere to the song. The sensual beat and rhythm paired with the smooth ad-libs and slight scatting Henry sings make this song very difficult not to love. The song strikes a chord with many music lovers, being an easy song to listen to, light hearted however smooth and stylish, it is one perfect for Henry’s vocals paired with the ever so smooth baritones of Chanyeol’s deep rapping is conclusively one of his best tracks to date.
The lyrics of the Bad Girl here, quite similarly coincide wondrously to the music of the song. The meaning tells of the singer being unable to control his feelings becoming overwhelmed by the girl he likes. Almost everything about her moves him; with herself being one to enjoy having the singer chase after her it turns into the game for the lovers, both equally enticed with each other. The sensual mood is ‘I’ve lost my mind for you, you know this but you still play me, playing games you Bad Girl’.
3. Need You Now (Feat. Hoya of Infinite)
Need You Now is overall the most light-hearted of the six songs on Fantastic. Its sweet, simplistic but cute melodies of the guitar paired with the quirky rapping of Infinite’s Hoya showcases a wistful romantic pop song perfect for a summer day. The relaxing regular rhythm, although not very strong or apparent in a song make the song alternatively fun and delightful to listen to however probably not one which is prominent in the album as a whole but a enjoyable nonetheless.
The lyrics foretell the thoughts of the singer unable to concentrate, sleep or think properly; completely fixated with his new-found love. He appears to be deeply longing for her presence, as she has wholly affected so greatly the singer. As the speaker sings ‘I don’t like being alone, I want you, I don’t like this silence, fill it up with your sounds’ he appears shaken however all the same indebted to her confused with overwhelming feelings of falling for this girl.
Saturday is a song which I enjoyed immensely for it’s wonderfully funky guitar rhythm and it’s incredibly addicting tune. The introduction of the song begins with an immediate toe-tapping beat it is a song you simply cannot get though sitting still. This funky dance beat is one that sticks in your head whether its the exciting lyrics of ‘Saturday’ echoing in your ears or the inability to resist its rhythm its is one of my favourites on the album and one I still would have on repeat.
The meaning of this song is quite a simple one. The happy lyrics ‘Oh Saturday, you make me dream, Saturday, I want you baby, follow the stars, leave with me’ are of the rush and excitement of a Saturday night being with someone special he has found to share this with and he never wants to let go of that moment.
5. Butterfly (Feat Seulgi of SMRookies)
Butterfly is a soft, but soulful ballad with strong soprano vocals from Seulgi of SMRookies who also features in the song. Henry here shows off his effortless sweet vocals in this song with an adorable verse of answering back and forth from Henry to Seulgi this duet makes it ideal for a romantic pop ballad; the relaxed tones and melodies are one that almost send a listener to sleep. This song is one to set anyone into light-hearted mood being overall a charmingly cute, simplistic song, enjoyable to listen to all around.
Like a cold summer night in Need You Now, Henry sings of a longing spring day reminding him of the person he is unable to detach from his thoughts. The beautiful lyric of ‘If I’m with you, whenever, wherever, it is like a field filled with flowers in a dream’ only stirs the feelings of the singer missing the person deeply. The floral imagery of the song connotes the pre romanticism of his endearment towards the girl only trying to show much he indeed loves her.
6. 자꾸자꾸 (You)
You is a rather unique song in itself albeit all at the same containing a rather sweet, nostalgic atmosphere. Perhaps the soft ‘Sha la la la la’s’ paired with the fall in rhythm emphasise this dramatic effect placed in the song yet, simultaneously being similar to a soft rhythm one may find in many R&B/pop songs in music worldwide. Henry ends his album with another smooth song, being simplistic but sweet to listen to it is one highly recommended to listeners looking for a simple but catchy song. It leaves a sweet conclusion to the album and is a song which yet again suits Henry’s vocals perfectly.
The quick pitch change when singing ‘You’ strengthen the dream-like quality the song’s lyrics also underlie with the smooth tones creating the wonderful parallel to the enamouring message behind this beautiful pop ballad. The immediate simplicity from the song’s title to the message in the detailed lyrics of ‘Every time I breathe, it’s you, every time the clock hand moves, it’s you, I think of you every time I walk’ explore the innocence of love. The infatuation the singer feels is lovingly expressed with its chorus beautifully taking the time to describe the small but significant elements of how much the smallest things remind the singer of his love with everything move he makes saying ‘It’s you, every time my phone rings, it’s you, I want every person I pass by to be you, I keep doing it’.
I would rate this album 9.2/10 for its range in genres, style, its ability to be both unique and familiar-sounding and its overall likeability.