While I may not be as big of an AKMU fan as many others, I’ve always been a huge lover of Chanhyuk’s voice. He’s got a great vocal colour, one that brings a tonne of character whilst still sounding satisfying to the ears in the realm of both upbeat and softer tracks. As such, when it was announced that he would be going solo, I was immediately interested. The very cool teasers continued to fester this interest, increasing the hype for not only lead single Panorama but for the project as a whole. So, does it live up to the hype?
Well, I’m glad to say that it mostly does. Panorama isn’t the kind of showstopping moment I was hoping for but it’s an incredibly solid lead single that harnesses the burgeoning retro synthpop trend to great effect. It sits firmly within Chanhyuk’s wheelhouse, melodically coming across as a ballad with a beat. A musical approach that I personally love. The melody here is quite gorgeous, not impressing initially but really transforming into something quite engaging on further listens. And while the songwriting is a major reason for its success, Chanhyuk remains an obvious reason as to why Panorama is as satisfying as it is. His voice does wonders here, imbuing the hook with so much added emotion that it really helps it over the line. It isn’t the absolute strongest use of his voice but even a great Chanhyuk performance is a treat for the ears.
But as expected, the real star of the show is the production, which takes an otherwise standard synth laden backdrop and does some truly weird and cool things to it. I love the particular synth textures here, they give so much added character towards the production, giving Panorama a much more unique musical identity when compared to its peers. The verses coast along on a much more downtempo, consistent pulse before the the chorus comes in courtesy of some majestic synthy exclamations and an even more enjoyable robotic repetition of the titular hook which sneaks its way in as a nice little post chorus flourish. Initially, Panorama felt a little too reserved for me but further listens have really helped bring out its many hidden charms. A characteristic that bodes well for its longevity. There may be stronger tracks on the album but as it stands, Panorama is a solid first effort from one of K-pop’s most exciting vocalists.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10