Music review: Singer-songwriter Li Ronghao still surprises in Ear, his fifth album in six years

Ear is singer-songwriter Li Ronghao's fifth album in six years since his award-winning debut in 2013.
Ear is singer-songwriter Li Ronghao's fifth album in six years since his award-winning debut in 2013.PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC TAIWAN

Asian Pop

EAR

Li Ronghao

Warner Music Taiwan

3.5 stars


An unexpectedly retrolicious slice of synth pop opens Chinese singer-songwriter Li Ronghao's latest album.

Quarrelsome Lovers' arrangement harks back to the 1980s as he croons smoothly about the contradictions of a relationship: "Kill loneliness in order to live/Forgive me and you feel sorry/The road is narrow, love each other, yet split up".

In his fifth album in six years since his award-winning debut, Model, was released in 2013, Li can still surprise and hold one's attention.

Dwell On The Past has a memorable lyric, courtesy of popular China blogger Han Han: "What brand of arrow did you use to pierce my heart?".

Li also continues to deliver in his forte of sensitively crafted mid-tempo tracks.

Over a gentle melody, he reminds one of what is important in Poverty Or Wealth: "They all think this way, think this way, think this way/Might not seem great, but be kind/Only after tasting the setbacks time has given/Can we become truthful".

Thankfully, there is nothing here as egregiously misguided as the trying-too-hard-to-be-hip electro-pop title track En from his 2017 album.

His latest effort might not reach the heights of his earlier works, but Li still has an ear for classy pop music.

Watch the music video for Quarrelsome Lovers at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA7d3SLddsM