TVXQ have been relatively quiet this year, both in Korea and Japan. That’s about to change, as each member is set to release solo Japanese work. Both Changmin and Yunho already have a J-pop mini album under their name – music that can be hard to find but well-worth searching out (Rock With U and Bang in particular!). Now, Changmin has kicked off a new era of solos with the dramatic Human.
Changmin has an incredible voice, but I haven’t connected with a ton of his solo work. I wish producers would give him more rock-influenced material. His tone can be searing and effective in the right context (see the aforementioned Rock With U). A song like Human feels neither here nor there. It’s not quite a ballad (another area Changmin has mastered), yet its slow-burn energy lacks dynamics. The song casts a spell, but it’s a somewhat monotonous one.
The guitar that opens the track gives me hope. Might Human scale great heights as it soars toward a knockout chorus? The delicate pre-chorus seems to promise catharsis, and things heat up when we hit Human’s centerpiece. However, the production holds back. There’s tension in this approach, but the melody is too predictable to act as the release it needs to be. The song could use a contrasting post-chorus – some counterpoint to break up the lockstep structure. As it stands, Human struggles between Changmin’s gutsy performance and an arrangement that constantly stalls. It’s solid, but nowhere near his best.