Maybe it’s the telling signs of maturity, but the latest studio offering from Dong Young-bae – better known by his stage name Taeyang – sounds conspicuously mellow.
Aurally, the faster numbers on third mini album White Night don’t exactly fit the bill of flashy flavour-of-the-moment bangers. Past releases such as boisterous Ringa Linga and trap-heavy Good Boy (the epic collaboration with fellow bandmate G-Dragon) titillate with their psychedelic sound.
And who can forget the Gyeonggi-do native’s contribution as one fifth of the mega titan group BigBang on the swaggering K-pop masterpiece that is Fantastic Baby?
Sure, one could point out that the 29-year-old’s solo pursuits found success on the sentimental ballad spectrum.
But considering all of the above, there’s no denying that White Night is still a comparatively tame offering.
Recently in an episode of the reality TV show I Live Alone, Taeyang confessed to BigBang’s lead vocalist Daesung that he no longer has the vigour to perform some of the more rigorous choreography.
Bearing that revelation in mind, is the relatively subdued soundscape of White Night a reflection of a seasoned idol’s waning agility? Or has the gravity of adulthood finally sunk in?
All hypotheses aside, one thing about Taeyang remains unchanged – those emotion-drenched vocals.
It’s an asset that he brilliantly reminded adulating VIPs (as BigBang fans are known) who filled up Stadium Negara during the Kuala Lumpur leg of his White Night World Tour.
On a live stage, songs such as Wedding Dress, Naked and Darling reflected those flawless higher registers to a tee. But it was probably the seductive boiler I Need A Girl – featuring some serious weak-in-the-knees falsetto from the man – that melted the hearts of the thousands of largely female crowd on that balmy Sunday night.
While the slower jams worked wonders in highlighting those amazing vocal prowess, it was the frenetic numbers that absolutely riled up the crowd.
Electrifying opener Ringa Linga was Taeyang’s declaration that he still got the moves. Make no mistake, this veteran star is far from ahjussi (Korean term for older men) territory and still oozed plenty of sex appeal.
With his platinum blonde hair and clad in an all-white ensemble that soon became see-through with sweat, the man writhed and grind to the stomping beats of tracks like Body and Superstar.
True to the predominantly smooth R&B leanings of White Night, the show had a somewhat intimate quality with impassioned banter from the man peppered throughout the night.
“You will get to hear my new songs tonight. Out of all my albums, I had the most fun doing White Night. I hope my message gets across to you,” he said to cheers that reverberated throughout Stadium Negara.
Tonight was a culmination of that experimental ambient atmospheric sound he flirted with on Wake Me Up earlier in the show.
The former – which appeared as a collaboration with Block B’s Zico on the new album – was a soaring stadium-ready anthem that pushed the sonic boundaries of the stereo that night.
Like most men in South Korea, Taeyang will be enlisted in the military in the upcoming months. So the White Night tour – more than a grand display of artistry – also served as a swansong of sorts.
Fans won’t be seeing the K-pop star for the next few years, and they really lapped up the performances along with their VIP crown glow sticks. The atmosphere at the concert was one of triumph and nostalgia.
The latter was evoked through a string of BigBang hits – Fantastic Baby, Bang Bang Bang and Last Dance – that were performed solo.
As the night drew to a close with the exceptional Eyes, Nose, Lips, the method to Taeyang’s mellower disposition began to make sense.
Less is certainly more for this massively talented triple threat star. And that new artistic shift is but a precursor to greater things to come.