單細胞 (Simple Love) , by Yen-j (嚴爵)
Singer/songwriter Yen-j (嚴爵) first put his name on the music map with a jazz/pop fusion album, Thanks Your Greatness (謝謝你的美好). He then veered toward pop with his follow-up Not Alone (不孤獨). With Simple Love (單細胞), his third album in as many years, he shifts gears once again, this time with electronica.
Unfortunately, none of the tracks here has the pulsating energy of electronica. Indeed, fans are probably scratching their heads trying to understand how this is an electronica album because not a single track here has any semblance to dance music.
In the lead single Sneeze (打噴嚏) — the theme song for TV drama Miss Rose (螺絲小姐要出嫁) — Yen-j uses the act of sneezing as a metaphor of reminiscing in a piano-driven song. The title track Simple Love has simple but honest vocals as well as an audience-friendly musical arrangement, but there is nothing that’s really going to make you want to shake your bones.
Whereas Yen-j’s debut album was an accomplished effort, complete with jazzy flourishes and atmospheric jazz/pop fusion tracks, his later two efforts have been pop albums with a few hit songs. The only two tracks here that still maintain his early musical elements are The World is not Bad (世界還不錯) and My Sagittarius Girlfriend (我的射手座女友). However, Yen-j’s ability in penning pop hits remains unproven because his pop ballads often sound so insipid that one suspect they might be rejects from a boy group such as Fahrenheit (飛輪海).
Yen-j is a classical musician who seems to be jumping on the electronica bandwangon, while ignoring the musical roots that made his earlier jazz/pop albums worth listening to. Although it remains to be seen whether or not Yen-j will pull himself out of the pedestrian rut he seems to be in, we continue to hope for the great albums we know are inside him.
有形的翅膀 (Visible Wings), by Angela Chang (張韶涵)
After three years of family scandals, Angela Chang (張韶涵) joins a new label for her seventh album Visible Wings (有形的翅膀). With this latest outing, Chang is looking to catapult herself into the rank of Jolin Tsai (蔡依林) and Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒), who are versatile in both ballads and dance tunes.
Chang, who is celebrated for her poignant delivery of mid- and slow-tempo ballads, plunges headlong into the terrain of electronica.
Three tracks redefine Chang as a potent dance songstress. The lead single, That Girl, is a sassy electronica track that has a riveting dance beat. It’s almost certain to become a KTV hit. The other two dance tracks, Can’t You Listen (講不聽) and Prince Syndrome (王子病), join forces to shift Chang’s former image as an emotionally vulnerable and lovelorn girl to a modern woman with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
Apart from her polished electronica tracks, Chang continues to deliver heartfelt, riveting songs.
In Visible Wings (有形的翅膀), written by Sodagreen’s (蘇打綠) frontman Wu Ching-feng (吳青峰), Chang uses her warm vocals to deliver an inspirational anthem that encourages her fans to pursue their dreams. Also penned by Wu is the lead single How Have You Been Lately? (最近好嗎), which is another catchy number that reveals Changs’ strength when facing her own emotional wounds.
Other highlights include the uplifting Walking under the Rain (淋雨一直走), urging fans to trudge on ahead despite frustration. In the folksy, If I’m the One for You, Chang uses understated, poignant vocals to croon about her doubts about a lover.
Chang is obviously not hurdled by her family scandal. With Visible Wings she opts to stand up proudly, delivering her most optimistic and musically diverse album to date. Who knows? With her new electronica tracks, she might become a singing-and-dancing sensation of the same caliber as Jolin Tsai.