For his second comeback of 2019, popular balladeer Paul Kim opts for depth and simplicity with his digital single “Try”. Having experienced massive success in recent years with his own releases as well as in his OSTs, he returns as a confident musician, assured of his identity and showing off what he does best.

The first striking thing about this MV how utterly un-eyecatching it is. Unlike the flashy or beautifully shot videos we are spoilt with, this video is pretty boring, clothing wise and set wise. However, despite its subtlety, the artistic design behind the whole MV remains visible, and the video tells a story that works best with this track.

The mundaneness of Paul’s plain attire and expression, to the way he roams from chair to chair within the same set, attempts to express how everyday-like even breakups can be. When the time is right and there is no longer a way to save a relationship, that breakup simply becomes inevitable. It has to and will be done. Life moves on after that. Far from the usual heart-wrenching and dramatic ballads used to describe the end of a relationship, Paul keeps it simple and down to earth.

And yet, uncertainty and insecurity lie under this facade of normalcy. Lingering feelings of heartbreak and regret underpin the protagonist’s determination to end things, and the way Paul keeps shifting around the room does well to illustrate this. The way the lights change colour as the song progresses and the different surfaces he sits on reflect how he feels different emotions at different points in time. Consequently, the decisions he desires to make would also change at different points of time.

A similar dilemma is presented through the lyrics of the entire song, beginning even from its title. While its English title is “Try” (indicating a certain level of effort and desire to repair a broken relationship), its Korean title is the complete opposite, a phrase that means “I know that we’re going to break up”. That air of defeat and resignation rings through in the chorus, where this particular phrase is constantly repeated. In fact, he asks to be “let go” because he knows that the relationship is doomed. This seems jarring at first, as opposed to the verses which read like a typical ballad in terms of how much the protagonist misses his ex and so on.

I know this is nothing much

But feels like I’ve lost everything

The fact that I can’t let you go

Is something we know too well

Put together however, it paints a picture of a very realistic lover. His head tells him to end this relationship off, but the love he continues to hold and the pain he has gone through causes his heart to resist, even after the deed has been done. This song is full of raw, honest emotion, and the way it is presented here definitely injects it with more realism.

Of course, Paul’s lovely voice and the seamless way it flows with the instrumentals of this track elevate the entire song. The minimalistic MV definitely worked in giving his voice the spotlight it deserves, and his extraordinary wide range amazes every time. The comfortable way he tackles high notes and smashes them completely are chill-inducing each time.

In just a few words, he is able to convey so much, and this is especially important in “Try”, given its numerous mood changes. This is complemented by the backing instrumentals, in particular the drum beats. With the rhythm in place, everything follows a comfortable pace, but in the few pre-choruses where the drum beats disappear, the track feels intentionally emptier. Given that these are the turning points in the lyrics as well, linking the regretful verses to the determined choruses, the lack of a constant beat in this section drives home the insecurity that the protagonist feels. There is no pattern to follow, no template on what to feel.

It was a lovely treat to the ears to hear Taeyeon‘s sweet voice chiming in toward the end of the song. While it is a pity that her part is not longer, this short inclusion is timely considering how the protagonist finally arrives at the end of his contemplation. While he has been expressing his point of view all this while, relationships are always two-sided, and when one half of the equation feels that the relationship should end, the other half inevitably feels it too. The soft way they sing in response to one another, the heartbreaking mutual decision they make together, Paul walking back to the bed he sat on at the start of the video – the finality of this whole scene hurts like a slow burn. It is amazing how the ending of a mere walk around the room can evoke so much emotion, and it speaks to how deeply these simple lyrics can cut.

On first glance, this MV and the release as a whole seems like nothing special. Peel back a layer however, and a picture of realistic relationships and heartbreak starts to appear. “Try” is a satisfying release from Paul Kim, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing more of his angelic voice.

(Youtube. Images & Lyrics via Neuron Music)