This time last year, SM Entertainment‘s 52-week Station project kicked off with Taeyeon’s Rain. At the time, it seemed like an exciting prospect that could have gone in any number of directions. And though the end results weren’t usually as thrilling or noteworthy as they could have been, the project itself felt like a total success. SM is an enormous and wide-reaching agency. Though idol groups are its bread and butter, they’ve also home to a diverse line-up of talent. Station gave a platform to show this off.
To mark the last week of the project (until it returns and re-brands in the spring), EXO‘s leader Suho gives us a quiet piano ballad, collaborating with famed jazz pianist Song Young Joo. Though he’s part of k-pop’s biggest band, it often feels that Suho is overlooked compared to some of his members. Maybe it’s just a matter of his relatively reserved personality, which happens to work well with a song like Curtain (커튼). In both sound and structure, it feels like a sequel to the group’s latest winter release, the sentimental For Life. Both tracks rely almost solely on piano, putting full spotlight on the vocals.
But even when it comes to vocals, Curtain is pretty restrained. Suho’s voice is unadorned, without a hint of layering or harmony in sight. It feels as if the song was recorded in one take, giving it an intimate, emotional feel. It’s a risky move, but as much as I like Suho, his voice doesn’t quite have the texture or weight necessary to drive such a spare arrangement and melody. Curtain may be a much-deserved chance for him to to spread his wings on his own, but as a finale to Station it feels slightly underwhelming.