Kelvin Kwan returns with six new songs on his first "new and best selection" album, his first release after 2010's comeback "Here I Am". These six songs aren't only all solid and great listens, but represents Kelvin's maturation into a true artist with creativity, direction, and experimental nature.
A more in-depth look...
The album opens with "Occupation/佔領", featuring rapper MastaMic. To sum it up, "Occupation" is a fantastic track that combines hard rock and rap. The theme is refreshing, as it is the first time Kelvin has dealt with political themes in his music (in this case, last year's Occupy Wall Street). It is a song with meaning as well as musical style. Read my more detailed song review for it here.
"People of My Generation/我這一代人" stays consistent with the hard rock driven sound and political theme of "Occupation". However, the feel is very different. It boosts a whole new level of intensity. His vocals and the music are very powerful and full of angst. It ends with a slow piano closing filled with sadness. This amount of angst is something I rarely see in mainstream Cantonese music, making it an outstanding song. Listening to it makes me feel full of conflicted emotion. It is such a raw song that gives me chills.
The (unofficial) music video is simple yet so powerful, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that Kelvin directed it himself. It is great to see he is getting so involved in his music!
"Don't Hide/別再躲" takes a much more relaxed feel and tone. However, it is yet another powerful and memorable song. It starts off with a laid back feel with just Kelvin's vocals and the simple strumming of an acoustic guitar. Gradually, it works up and becomes a great blend of electric guitar and drums. The sound is amazing and there is so much emotion in his voice.
"Me or What/我還是什麼" is a mid-tempo ballad also full of emotion. The song, like "Don't Ask" also makes great use of drums and the electric guitar as well as the piano, especially at its climax. The heartfelt ballad is something very familiar to the Cantopop music industry, but it's use of instruments and subtle rock influence makes it stand out. On the other hand, the music video does not do its job of complimenting the song at all.
"Violations/情事" is an upbeat and uplifting song that boosts a feeling of sweetness and even slight melancholy. It's hard to describe. Perhaps it's because it's used as the theme song of his currently airing ATV sitcom "Heart's Beat for Love" (about a group of young friend's love lives and careers), but it makes me reminiscence about good times. Something about it is motivating, whether it's his vocals or the superb instrumental. It even slightly reminds me of a Zac Kao song, who ironically is his costar in the sitcom.
"Back Wave/回頭是浪" is the last track on the new part of his album (CD1), as well as the only Mandarin one. It serves as a proper closing as the song is soothing and calming. The orchestra featured is beautiful as well. A very lovely song that is a relaxing listen.
Following the 6 new tracks on the first CD are 12 of Kelvin's "best tracks" on the second CD. The selection of songs is good as it is a mixture of his hit singles like his duet "Distress Everywhere/四面楚歌" with Kay Tse as well as notable non-single tracks like the R&B and hip hop influenced "Avalo Kites/千手觀音".
"Occupation" is a superb compilation of his great music of the past and his great music of today. The album marks the continued development of the new and improved Kelvin, as a man and as a musician. He and his music has matured so much since his comeback.
His experimentation here with different musical styles isn't extraordinary or history making by any means, but comes with great effort and execution. Some of the musical styles exhibited and incorporated here are not something that isn't often seen in Cantonese music in general, but is more uncommon in mainstream Cantopop. With his music, he is helping broaden the scope of mainstream Cantopop.
There is notably a lot more creativity and direction in the six new songs than in Kelvin's past material. Kelvin is constantly growing as an artist, especially with his increased participation in taking part in making the music himself. I look forward to seeing what else he has in store theirs year. In the meantime, his new music is constantly on repeat on my iPod.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Author's Note: I have been really into Kelvin's music lately, and as a result feel the want to post about him a lot. This is my second Kelvin post this week, and I still have a two part spotlight (part 1: biography and artist critique, part 2: song recommendations/reviews) lined up. This gives me an outlet to give my thoughts on him and his music, as I know I've been excessively praising and spamming poor Niki about it. After this, I will also be blogging about a variety of things again. Until then, I hope everyone enjoys my Kelvin posts.