A couple of weeks after pre-releasing the upbeat r&b funk of What You Need, EXO member Lay is back with his debut solo EP. To herald its release, Lose Control slows things down and sexes things up, giving his sound yet another layer.
From the very beginning, Lose Control screams late 90’s/early 00’s radio r&b. Almost every instrumental affectation recalls Timbaland-produced Justin Timberlake or Usher, down to the stuttery beat and plucks of guitar. Of course, this particular style isn’t new to k-pop (or c-pop, since this is technically a Chinese track), but we haven’t heard it in awhile. On first listen, its throwback simplicity is almost underwhelming — lacking the vocal and instrumental fireworks we’ve become used to in this day and age. But like What You Need, the track improves with further listens. It takes its time setting a vibe, and for better or worse, this takes precedence over melody. At times, the song feels more like a series of advances than an attempt at enduring pop songcraft.
This isn’t an inherently bad thing, though I’m not entirely sold on Lay as the purveyor of this particular sound. He does an admirable job providing smooth — and at times powerful — vocals, but his warm tone feels slightly at odds with the track’s conceit. Lose Control would have been elevated if given some grit. It’s certainly no fault of Lay’s, and he pounces on each line with a palpable dedication. He’s such a slick performer, but Lose Control calls for something different — a nasty sort of r&b attack that abandons smooth precision and just grabs hold of the beat. Still, given the track’s provocative music video, I suspect many fans will be enjoying this comeback with their eyes just as much as their ears!