Wow—what a debut album. The solo debut of VIXX’s main vocalist Leo has been a long time coming, but mini-album “Canvas” doesn’t disappoint. Every song on the album is of title-track caliber, while the title track itself, “Touch & Sketch,” seems to simplify Leo’s style a bit for the sake of catering to wider audiences. Despite the apparent streamlining of “Touch & Sketch,” the album has a flavor of the artful from start to finish, due at least in part to Leo’s delivery that is at once sensuous and delicate. Leo’s got quite a unique voice that doesn’t always have the chance to stretch out fully in VIXX songs, but “Canvas” is written to allow his vocal to shine, and shine it does.
“Touch & Sketch,” like most of the debut album, is an R&B-inspired pop journey through grooving bass, crooning vocals and plenty of deliciously dissonant compositional material. Harmonies that you would think might clash instead melt together, and swishing synths contrast with harp-like plinks. The highlight of the track is the second half of the two-part hook, where the melody develops into a fully-fledged creature worthy of Leo’s vocals. I would have liked to hear more of that complex melodic movement of the latter half of the chorus woven throughout the song. I love, for example, the way the descending melody that closes the hook changes each time it repeats. I don’t love hearing the word “touch” repeated on one note several times in a row; however, the dissonant vocal harmonies make the repetitions feel worthwhile in many places.
The rest “Canvas” is a no-skip kind of album, whether you’re listening to the knockout LE feature “Cover Girl,” the rock-influenced “Gesture,” or the piano ballad “Nowadays,” whose blockily phrased vocal melody contrasts gorgeously with the fluid instrumental and which is one of the best ballads of the year so far. I couldn’t be more thrilled that Leo has finally been able to make a solo debut, and I’m looking forward to more solo music from him.
TOUCH & SKETCH: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Bop.
Take a look at Leo’s “Touch & Sketch” MV below: