It seems that Thanksgiving has come early this year for all Yen-J fans as well as the music industry in general. In an unprecedented move, musical genius Yen-J has released two albums in the space of two months, following a two-year hiatus from the industry. I’ve heard of two albums in a year (A-mei and Jam Hsiao have both done so previously), but two albums in two months? It’s just too much for me to handle!
Yen-J himself has compared these two albums to be like two opposing images of himself. The first Thanksgiving 一直給 goes back to Yen-J’s clean, honest and sincere image whereas the second album 現代藝術 WHY?ART presents a lesser-known, darker bad-boy image of Yen-J. But more than just what’s on the surface, let’s get down to the music.
Y5, ‘Thanksgiving’ is based around a concept of Yen-J being grateful for what he’s been given, both by fans, friends and family. Its music boasts clean lines, fresh ideas and a sincere take on his creativity.
His first single “一直給Give” features a classical-R n B inspired arrangement that is not unfamiliar to fans as it takes you back to the Yen-J you all know and love. A simple ballad whose uniqueness lies in the sincerity and security of its melody and Yen-J’s honest vocals.
Out of the three singles released thus far, his second single ‘Something’ is my favourite. Starting off with a sweet, yet not cloying acoustic feel, the song transitions smoothly into a hip-hop/ light EDM feel. With seamless transitions, yet so many elements at play here all based on nothing more than a simple guitar riff, it’s truly no simple feat putting this song together. The song feels really organic, like all these different genres just came together naturally to create a song that mixes sweetness with bitterness to create a tasty blend of sounds and textures that you just can’t get enough of.
His third single, ‘輕輕Lightly’ featuring newcomer PEACE is a simple fusion of Chinese traditional melodies with a rock-influenced rhythm woven through the entire song. PEACE and Yen-J’s pure vocals do wonders for this mesmerising song which keeps your head nodding and your heart soothed.
Y6 ‘現代藝術WHY?ART’ on the other hand, is a complete juxtaposition of what Yen-J’s achieved in the previous album. Based around confusion, chaos and leaving his comfort zone to make genuine critiques on society, the only common point both of the albums share is Yen-J’s gung-ho creativity and a strong EDM influence.
His first single “現代藝術WHY? ART” is just that. A critique on the term ‘contemporary art’, everything about the song reflects exactly what he’s trying to critique. An abstract, confusing dystopic scene is what is elicited from the single through a combination of EDM, rap and hip-hop in ways that you’ve never imagined. Experimental, new, and with a pinch of tongue-in-cheek humour, that’s Yen-J alright.
All in all, I believe that this is the most challenging musical feat Yen-J has taken on thus far during his time in the Taiwanese music industry. All that time you thought he was resting, he was actually working on a book and two albums simultaneously. What I see here are two album concepts that present far more hard-hitting and ‘serious’ ideas than he’s dabbled with in previous albums, something that truly excites me to no end. I can’t wait to listen to both albums in their entirety now!
Review score: 8.5 out of 10