Just like last year, EXO’s Kai has returned at the tail end of 2021 to reassert his place in the industry. 2020’s self-titled debut proved to be a great success, drawing from different elements of modern r&b for a strong collection of songs. Even the subdued Mmmh ended up growing on me a lot. For new single Peaches, he continues to mine this slow, sensual sound. But this time around, the results are too muted for my taste.
This particular style of r&b has had a prolific couple of years, and I think it takes a dynamite vocalist to make it soar. There’s a monotonous – almost droning – quality to the melodic construction, phrased in a way that favors languid mood-building over dynamic peaks and valleys. Oftentimes, this clears space for the listener to focus on a complex instrumental or compelling performance. Peaches hopes to compensate with its hypnotic beat, which incorporates traditional instrumentation. But, the arrangement gets repetitive quickly, and there’s just not enough movement for my taste. Peaches is certainly a vibe, but I wish it pushed beyond that.
Kai has a fine voice, and he’s a dynamite performer. I’m not convinced that this style of song takes full advantage of those skills, but he seems committed to the sound. And when he stretches a bit during the bridge, Peaches starts to come alive. Just like Mmmh, I predict this will improve with further listens. But, I’d kill for a title track along the lines of album tracks Nothing On Me or Ride Or Die.