Gallant is a special artist to me. I've been following since his Zebra EP and have been incredibly invested in his journey. He's found himself a very loyal, if not unexpected, following from the Korean pop community, artists who flock to him for his old-school brand of showman-like crooning on stage and his humble, quirky and downright hilarious personality off it. Though not every one of his releases has had the same punch, I can't deny that he stirs in me both the poet and lover of soul music.
With a call back to his first EP (and its echo on breakout album Ology), he continues his interstellar narrative with Neptune, an emotional, powerful piece of music that nestles very well between the intelligent poetry of Zebra and all-out down on your knees soul of Ology. There are moments, as with previous releases, of pop-leaning R&B, but when it comes down to it, he falls back into the embrace of just emotive singing and poetic musings.
"Chemical Romance." digs into the crates for the type of R&B that calls back to the soul of groups like the Spinners and the New Birth. Moody and emotive, a heady mixture of piano, bass, drums. The composition holds the poetry in Gallant's lyricism in its embrace. Then you take a moment to consider his natural falsetto. Suddenly you find yourself transported to another space and time entirely.
In this Neptune stands apart from its predecessors. He reaches for more soul conventions than ever before. Holding true to who he is as a storyteller, but allowing his voice and composition to embrace the full extent of Black musical excellence. Elements of doo-wop ("Dynamite.") stands toe to toe with '90s R&B and complex vocal layering. I'll never get enough of hearing Brandy on other artists' albums, her duets with male singers with range and versatility is always a treat if for nothing else the magic the music makes. This intricate dexterity bleeds almost seamlessly into the dramatic largeness of R&B ballads ("Julie.") and the scatter beat of midtempo house-infused R&B that suffused much of the mid-'90s ("Scars.")
I find it interesting that each song is punctuated with a period. Each track tells a story, makes a declarative statement of the mental and emotional landscape of our protagonist. It's even more fascinating when considering a few of the songs blend into each other with little to no pause between them. A strong narrative punctuated with moments of incredible vulnerability. He certainly has a flair for the theatrical, even in album construction.
With Neptune, Gallant reveals another layer to his musicality. His ability to blend pure soul with '90s-era R&B, wrap it around beautiful lyricism and make the whole thing explode with the power of his vocal range makes this his most complete piece of work to date.