It’s hard to believe that VIXX have been a part of the K-pop landscape for six years already. That’s senior artist territory, and they continue to lead the pack with their dynamic concepts and ever-shifting genre experimentation. With this elder statesman status comes inevitable solo work. The group’s rapper, Ravi, has already released a few mixtapes and one promoted album, and now it’s Leo’s turn. The light funk of Touch & Sketch gives him the chance to show off his individual artistry for the first time.
The song is a mixed bag, with a solid chorus that’s brought down by its murky, meandering verses. This criticism hearkens back to my earlier frustration with the uneven song construction we’ve been seeing in modern K-pop. Sketch’s verses offer a chance for Leo to display his always-impressive voice, but their hazy — almost formless — structure never builds to anything. Thankfully, a heavy dose of harmony and vocal layering ensures that they’re aesthetically pleasing, even if the energy is stuck at a low level throughout.
This is a shame, because Sketch’s rhythmic chorus has potential. It feels very much like a hook Taemin would have snatched up for his own solo work, but Leo approaches it with a softer performance style that emphasizes mood and sleek sexiness. The melody relies on a repetitive refrain that builds to a more assured climax with Leo’s piercing tone as an anchor. It’s incredibly smooth, but I would have preferred to hear the producers rough it up little and lean more heavily into the song’s funk backbone. Solo debuts are a time to really knock it out of the park. Touch & Sketch is perfectly pleasant, but should have been an absolute showstopper.