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Everybody’s favorite baby panda of the non-ursine variety, Seungri, is a babe no more with “Gotta Talk To U,” the single from his new mini-album, Let’s Talk About Love. A far cry from the sexual decadence (and spilled Heinz ketchup) of the album’s 19+ rated teaser video, “Gotta Talk To U” is a sensual exercise in restraint—a moderation that comes with maturity.  The song and MV don’t overreach or go for the big bang (pun intended). Seungri’s smooth vocals and a lovely, simple melody tinged with romantic melancholy allow the viewer to revel in the quiet beauty of it all and provide a fitting score for an entrancing reverie amongst the skyscrapers and dancing lights of a futuristic mega-metropolis. All in all, this is a superlative effort.

“Gotta Talk To U” is a well-crafted, beautifully subdued dance-pop tune displaying Seungri’s evolution into a sophisticated artist who knows that oftentimes, less is more. His simple, dulcet vocals and a dreamy acoustic guitar riff that recurs throughout the song start things off, establishing the romance early. As the song progresses, warm layers are added onto the soundscape, none of them overpowering but all augmenting the richness of the sound. Seungri stays in his lane vocally, sounding almost angelic singing a very simple melody within his range throughout the track. Perhaps this is another mark of his deeper understanding of himself and what works: he stays within his limits.

20130820_seoulbeats_seungri3Piano, claps, synth flute, then the arrival of an electric disco beat and base, followed by progressive house flourishes (like the ascending klaxon sound) and electric guitar keep things moving. “Hustlin’, hustlin’. I’m a hustlin’, hustlin’,” Seungri and a deep-voiced harmonizer, perhaps Seungri himself, (perhaps Rick Ross, Mr. “Everyday I’m Hustlin’”) chant during the chorus, planting an earwig that probably won’t budge for the next few days. Get ready to hear “hustlin’, hustlin’” in your sleep.

The song’s biggest strength, besides its beautifully wistful melody and understatement, is the interesting emotional journey each verse and chorus pair take the listener on, which is especially impressive considering that the song only consists of four repeating bars! Each verse builds up to a crescendo, but somehow, the track maintains its quiet mood, even in the highest-energy spots. Thus, each refrain, rather than being a climax, is a soothing release of tension. The end of the track sees the addition of funk disco elements as the beat picks up, yet even this change still fits within this framework. Despite the opportunity to go off the deep end at regular intervals, “Gotta Talk To U” remains committed to an aesthetic of mature, restrained beauty.

The MV is equally as lovely and dreamy as its score, with a splash of sexiness and an ethereal quality that highlights ambiguities of time, space, and emotion. Seungri reflects in a world of reflections and spectral projections of city life, as does his female costar, the viewer getting a voyeuristic look at their brooding through the glass windows of a skyscraper. These vignettes are interspersed with dance scenes, and the MV ends with the two finally meeting. I’m under the impression that one of two scenarios is at play: either the video follows Seungri and his lady love around in the moments before their fated first meeting, or they are lovers who’ve been apart and are reuniting. Either way, the beautiful setting imbues the MV with a wonder and romance independent of any love story.

20130821_seoubeats_seungri6It starts with Seungri—much more subdued than we’re used to seeing him, cutting a lonely figure as he surveys a cityscape, the reflections of tall buildings and illuminated signs playing off the glass walling him in, making his world look like the fairy realm of an urban fantasy novel. The Chrysler Building appears to be one of the ghostly images splashed across the windows, so we can assume this takes place in New York. The audience is then introduced to the woman in question, walking in sparkle pumps just as Seungri is wearing his glitter wingtips. Their shared affinity for blinged-out footwear is a sign that their union is written in the stars. In fact, throughout the video, we see them dressed similarly in many different outfits, indicating that they’re each other’s complement.

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Following the opening are various scenes of Seungri, obscured by lights and double images, in thought, watching television, and, of course, singing and dancing in performance shots. These scenes trade screen time with images of Seungri’s lady in similar situations. The dance scenes with a digital clock emblazoned across the screen are especially magical, as if they’re counting down the minutes until Seungri and his love will be as one. He breaks out his sexy man hip swivels a la MBLAQ in their “Smoky Girl” video. This is how the grown get down. His charisma shines during these performances and man, does he give good face. His gaze at the camera is smoldering. Work, Seungri.

In the last minute and a half, after Seungri has made his way through somewhere in the ballpark of 5 smart looks, 15 gyrations, and countless intense gazes at the camera, the song ends in earnest and the “Hard Remix” version begins, a thumping, Tiesto-esque, progressive house track meant to get the club hyped. It is here where the music leads to a full-on, geyser-like crescendo, the couple finally meeting after a club scene and embracing, the plot comes to a resolution. Oddly enough, this change in pace and energy isn’t jarring. Instead, it brings a story of ambiguous plot and chronology to a definitive conclusion.

20130821_seoulbeats_seungri2Seungri’s latest solo outing is a triumph that sets itself apart from his previous efforts, and has the potential to catapult him out from the shadows of his bandmates, G-Dragon, Taeyang, and T.O.P. A study in understated beauty and ethereal romance, this gorgeous song and MV suggest that the best is yet to come from Seungri, and it may be better than we ever could have imagined.

MV: 4.5/5

Music: 4.5/5

(YouTube[1], YG Entertainment)