V of BTS, most often referred to by fans with his given name of Taehyung, has a habit of throwing out his music. For years, V would habitually tease music on social media or via Weverse and livestreams, before ultimately revealing he wasn’t happy with the results and opted to trash it instead. Now, as the members of the septet are embracing this moment for individual efforts in the midst of completing South Korea’s mandatory enlistment period, V has finally let a collection of music see the light of day.
Within the world of BTS, V’s baritone is a critical anchor. It offers a contrast to the other pieces of the group’s vocal line: Jin and Jungkook’s silvery pop tenors, and Jimin’s stratospheric, airy performance style. V has also never tried to hide his deep-rooted affection for jazz, and solo tracks on BTS albums like “Singularity” and “Stigma” have seen him include genre trademarks as much as he could.
Now, with only his name on an album (the cover of which is a pixelated image of his beloved dog, Yeontan), he has the chance to dive into those proclivities headfirst. Take a listen to Layover below, and read on for our analysis of the solo effort.
For members of the BTS ARMY, it’s been a treat to see how each individual member of the band has explored their respective solo chapters: RM and Jin went more introspective, emotional routes; SUGA and j-hope processed and freed themselves from anger; Jungkook has kicked off his solo era playfully, preferring some straight-up pop about living young and wild and free.
It’s not too much of a surprise that V went a more fuzzy, bedroom pop route, enlisting HYBE subsidiary ADOR’s Hee Jin Min (the name behind NewJeans) as executive producer and primary collaborator. Layover is not a straight-up jazz album, nor is it fully R&B; like V himself, who is also known for his striking on-camera presence in the fashion world and a warm charm, the album is amorphous and harder to pin down.
It begins with “Rainy Days,” one of two pre-release singles. Right off the bat, we get the sense that heartache is going to be the star of the show here: “Don’t tell me it’s over, we can start it over,” he sings. “I remember your kiss, those hurtful words/ And I miss you.” The lead single and second pre-release offering, “Love Me Again,” is similar in tone, as V wistfully longs for a reunion with a lost lover.
And it doesn’t stop there — longing and regret are baked into every crevice of the album, in fact. There’s not a single track on Layover where things sound like they’re working out for V, from the gloomy cycles sung about in “Blue” (“The stars tonight I borrowed from the moon all shine on you/ But baby you’re still blue”) to the glum of “Slow Dancing.” The latter’s deceivingly optimistic title gives way to more resignation: “We were so much alike/ Now we’re just distant neighbors.”