Kim Wooseok’s solo debut 1st Desire: Greed is a sultry, provocative romp with music that sounds just as such. However, turning a complete 180, his first comeback 2nd Desire: Tasty is like the sonic and physical embodiment of a very sexy, charismatic Candy Man. While his first album was openly sensual and suggestive, the appeal in 2nd Desire: Tasty is more restrained and subtle. The songs tickle the ear and draw the listener in, like a fly to honey.
The tracks generally fall into three categories based on sound and topic. The lead tracks on the album “Tasty” and “Sugar” are bubblegum pop tracks. Soft, fun, and generally carefree, they sound light and bubbly. The following tracks “Better” and “Holiday” are contemplative and hopeful. “What are you up to tonight?” is the token soft ballad on the album, and “Next” is sultry, dark, and smoldering. As a whole, the selections are well-rounded for a first comeback, even if they are a little cheesy at times. Additionally, it is nice to see Kim Wooseok demonstrate his versatility, going from a bold snack (sorry) to a not-so-innocent pastel pretty boy.
While more upbeat and positive in their delivery, both “Tasty” and “Sugar” have a tempting sound to them that urges listeners to give in to their desires. On the surface both songs sound similar, like carefree lovesick pleas and promised connections. However, they also incorporate metaphors like savoring something slowly and the taste of someone’s lips. For the most part, it is cute, with just enough honeyed speech to keep your attention, but could be interpreted as a bit NSFW as well. The taste of someone and wanting to savor a love more slowly… that could go beyond whispered nothings or a peck on the lips, and that is all I will say about that. That being said, it is a fun, bubbly, and enjoyable release to enjoy for the Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day) season.
The music is fairly cookie-cutter pop with an especially bubbly and bright timbre. Wooseok’s vocals, paired with a busy electronic backing track, are in-your-face, but not overly so. It’s more like Sour Patch Kids–it could be a bit prickly and shocking at first, but enjoyable and sweet at its core. The sounds create more of a musical soundscape and rhythmic feel rather than more vertically aligned grooves as it were.
A fun feature of “Sugar” is a fun melodic motive of the whispered words “tasty” and “yum” used as a transition and bringing a fun frivolity to the sound of the song. It is mildly cheesy, sure, but given the ridiculous and chaotic nature of the MV, it fits well with this track. I personally wish “Sugar” and “Tasty” were a bit more contrasting both in the lyrics and overall sound, but given how different his previous album was, leaning into this bubbly Wooseok to show his duality feels wise and effective.
As the album continues to progress, the sound of the next two songs “Better” and “Holiday” are wistful and soft, a substantial contrast to “Tasty” and “Sugar,” but with the exception of “Next.” “Better” is a borderline ballad proclaiming that the world stops in the listener’s presence and their love makes him better. The profound warmth of both the sound and lyrics of the song are a nice breath of fresh air. Wooseok’s vocals take center stage to calm and caress the listener. Rather than the nonsense sounds of “Sugar” ‘and “Tasty,” “Better” has more computer simulated drum set and string tracks and with a rich harmonic underlay. The sound of the song and the lyrics are soothing, a nice contrast to the title track.
“Holiday” is similarly harmonically driven, but chill and flirty. One of the most interesting musical elements is the use of parallel motion between the vocals and instrumentals, at times even sharing a similar melodic contour. In this song, Wooseok expresses a feeling of each day bleeding together with the listener like an oasis in an otherwise dull and busy life. This is fairly accurately exemplified by the collective movement of the music. Interestingly enough, the holiday that the song seems to be about is just another regular day, but is made special by the listener’s presence. While there is a melancholic undertone to his dreary depiction of daily life, it makes for a nice, chill, and captivating song, almost like you are the subject of his affection.
No surprise, the next to last track is the token ballad of the album. Simple, beautiful, and even a bit shy, “What are you up to tonight” tells of a lovesick aspiring lover who just wants to see you for a moment longer. The lyrics suggest various ways of catching the listeners attention, like taking a walk or grabbing a beer, almost begging to spare another precious moment. The music is primarily acoustic, featuring only sparse acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and simple drum kit. The lyrics are precious and refreshing, creating a nice contrast with anything else Wooseok has released thus far.
Lastly, “Next” is the most different sonically and lyrically. Sensual, daring, and overtly suggestive, it sticks out from the rest of the album. With lyrics like “can’t turn away and you turn me upside down” and “wake me up now”, the lyrics tell a story of an unrequited dark love that he can not escape. Like an oppressive fog, he feels helplessly trapped by his own desires. The music sounds similar: dark, thickly scored, and with distorted, overdubbed vocal chops.
The lyrics “breaking dawn” especially stand out, as the music is stripped out and layered with distorted vocals before the drop in the chorus. The texture and timbre is vastly different than any other on the album and more similar to the sound concept of his previous album 1st Desire: Greed. Interestingly, it is placed as the last track of the album, perhaps giving listeners a sneak peak to how the next album’s sound will evolve. This is easily my favorite song of the album despite it sticking out from the overall intended sound concept.
Kim Wooseok’s duality from his debut “Red Moon” to “Sugar” is almost jarring. Embodying a sweet (and mildly spicy) Candy Man, 2nd Desire: Tasty is fun and bubbly in all the right ways. Some of the lyrics could be interpreted as suggestive and NSFW, but the overall concept and sound of the album is cute and bubbly with a nice variety of tracks (besides, the concept of the “Candy Man” was always a bit suggestive to begin with). Featuring a good mix of happy, dreamy, and sexy sounds, 2nd Desire: Tasty is alluring, satisfying, and dare I say, tasty.