EXO’s Kai has been primed for a solo debut for years now. As one of the group’s most dynamic performers, it feels like the sky’s the limit when it comes to the showstoppers he could deliver on his own. And, the pre-release teaser film for his debut album harnessed that theatricality in exciting ways. Yet, judging from the short clips alone, I was frustrated that Mmmh (음) would become his first title track. Of all the clips, it sounded the most one-note.
EXO have delivered plenty of standout mid-tempo r&b tracks before, and I think that songs like Mmmh can really pop if given a great hook and dynamic vocal. Just look at Sweet Lies or What Is Love. However, Kai is more of a performer than a vocalist, and I don’t think this material suits him best. He’s got a solid voice, yet his delivery here is lacking the texture that might otherwise compensate for the rather insubstantial melody.
To Mmmh’s credit, the song knows what it wants to be. The simple, trap-infused groove is established immediately and never really strays. The one exception occurs during the bridge, when it appears that Mmmh is going to climb into some dramatic vocal flourish. This never quite materializes, as the song is too indebted to its chill, sensual mood to do anything particularly interesting. Instead, Mmmh delivers a catchy – but repetitive – hook ad nauseum, relying on Kai’s magnetism as a dancer to bring a spark of energy to the track. This is fine, easy-listening r&b, but I would expect more from an idol of Kai’s caliber.