Following in the footsteps of former Wanna One bandmate Kang Daniel, actor and musician Ong Seong-Wu tries his hand at going solo, as he releases his debut mini album <Layers>.
But unlike Daniel’s recent Cyan EP, Seong-Wu really mixes things up here. All the songs start with a basic guitar line, or simple chords, but they all take different musical directions as they develop.
Café takes a bare approach, with coffee-house strumming, and a breathy falsetto refrain, “Only for you, you, you” that is so light, it feels like bird-song. After Dark follows a glossier, synthetic path, as vast atmospherics help to create a slow, absorbing r’n’b-electronica hybrid. Bye Bye then deviates to a jazz-funk style, as the 24-year-old’s voice is filtered through a megaphone, along with a more biting tone, “I’m sorry, I’m not stupid anymore.”
Lead single We Belong, meanwhile, feels like the quintessential K-pop track. Seong-Wu has managed to tie in some incredibly varied sections – from a Shawn Mendes-esque acoustic guitar riff, to big synth-chord blasts, dreamy atmospheres and whirring keyboard sounds – which are all unified by his smooth pop vocal delivery running throughout.
Guess Who is the only track that feels overtly familiar, as the low slap-back guitar riff, cheery whistle motif, and summery bass licks evoke the same sense of fun, easy-to-follow catchiness as Foster The People’s smash Pumped Up Kicks.
As far as debuts go, Ong Seong-Wu has packed in so many ideas, but still managed to keep it cohesive through his voice. <Layers> is a record that will continue to reveal itself with each listen.