On Aug. 16, 2017, Taeyang released his long-awaited third album, “White Night.” This comes after announcements and preparations for his “White Night World Tour,” of which eight dates are taking place in North America.
The eight-track album is the most recent solo comeback for Taeyang, after celebrating his 10-year anniversary with his brothers in BIGBANG. The three-year hiatus has done musical wonders for the artist, as this album has many exceptional qualities.
The first six tracks tell a story, while the last two are a clear demonstration of his maturation as a person. The album opens with “White Night,” a song that speaks on cherishing the moment with a loved one and wanting that moment to last forever. In only one minute and 26 seconds the production of this song draws you in while also serving as an introduction for the entire project. It leaves you longing for more, which allows the next track to continue the tale.
Track three is “Wake Me Up,” one of the album’s lead singles. The lyrics of this song relay a strong investment in the moment introduced in “White Night.” It is related as if it was a dream, pleading in the chorus, “Don’t wake me up.” The introduction of this song is of interest here, as the sounds used play off the notion of dawn and the various fauna that can be heard during that time.
Track four, “Darling,” continues the tale, with our protagonist realizing the imminence of the moment’s end, then the resulting heartache. It is at this point that we as listeners realize that the “moment” our protagonist speaks of here is an actual relationship, not just any one moment therein. The pained emotion of the vocal delivery creates a juxtaposition with the simple yet beautiful piano melody in a similar way that “Eyes, Nose, Lips” from the “Rise” album did. There was no percussion until the bridge around the two minute 28 second mark. Even with this addition, Taeyang still used his vocal delivery to ascend to the musical climax and descend from that to finish the song off solidly.
The fourth track, “Ride,” presents a shift in tempo and tone while preserving the established story line from tracks one through three. In this Michael Jackson-inspired song, it appears that Taeyang has moved on from heartache and is attempting to try again with someone new. There is a confidence in the vocal delivery that is paired with a flirtatiousness that many would be able to identify with if placed in the same situation.
Track five, “Amazin’,” continues with this confidence. However, there is an added resilience and determination in the lyrics and vocal delivery. It seems as if the ex has attempted to resurface in his life. But he is firm and resolute in not allowing her to invade his mind and heart as she did previously. There is also the influence of MJ in this song, but it is most clearly heard in the inflection of the word “amazing” in the last chorus, as well as the ad-libs of each chorus. The production itself has more of a The Weeknd vibe, which Taeyang has a firm command of, again showing his versatility.
Track six concludes the story with the song “Empty Road.” This track explores the true feelings that reside underneath the surface of the resoluteness shown in the previous track. A simple acoustic guitar loop carries with the emotion in Taeyang’s voice, adding spice. At the end of the song, it almost seems as if he was calling out to his ex, saying, “I’m still here, waiting.”
At this point, the main story of the album is finished and the last two tracks are almost reminiscent of songs that would play as the credits rolled at the conclusion of an excellent movie. That does not mean, however, that these are simply throwaway tracks. The penultimate song, “Naked,” has an updated Al Green-esque feel. It is a more mature and sensual song but still maintains the metaphoric language of the first six tracks.
The last track on this album is “Tonight,” featuring Zico of Block B. Another sensual song, this has more of a rock influence but still has a firm grasp in R&B. The track draws comparisons to D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” in the general emotion, and Beyoncé’s “Rocket,” with the use of power vocals at the end. It was almost as if he did not want to stop singing at this point. He even uses wordplay, masking what would normally be a more adult lyric by using a form of his own name, “taeyangi” (meaning “sun”), in the chorus. The addition of Zico was a nice touch, allowing the song to become unique and able to stand on its own.
The three-year gap between solo projects for Taeyang has allowed him to grow and mature even more as an artist. This project clearly demonstrates his artistic and vocal progression and versatility, especially when compared to “Solar” (2010) and “Rise” (2014). It will be such a pleasure to see what his next comeback will be.