1. Nothing Left In Me
2. Just Breathe
3. Maybe I’m Stupid
4. Drag Me Down
5. Turn Back the Time
6. You (in Mandarin)
7. My Calling
Mr Nice Guy’s maiden EP, Vol. 1, sees local musician Eric Tan channel the easy listening guitar playing of Eric Clapton. It injects a breath of fresh yet familiar air into the Hong Kong scene, incorporating elements of 80s pop, country, and funk. He uses more classic song structures to pare back the drama, focusing on his craft and ensuring that no song feels cluttered by unnecessary baubles. The result is a beautiful collection of universally pleasing tunes.
Opener Nothing Left in Me is a slow-build groove offering, with a bluesy bass guitar lick snagging the spotlight during the bridge segments. However, the use of a scifi-esque accelerated “chugging” sound effect before the chorus jars uncomfortably against the rest of the instrumentals. It doesn’t complement the funk-centric heart of the song, and whilst it may foreshadow the use of synth in future tracks, it lands just shy of the mark here.
Just Breathe features an especially satisfying bridge melody, lending elements of 80s synth pop as well as centering around the guitar parts. The chorus’s pleasant falsetto moments add layers of musical depth, and the song in general is a catchy foray into soft pop.
Country music surfaces in Maybe I’m Stupid. A short and sweet track, Mr Nice Guy tells an amusing story whilst switching up his style to give listeners a taste of something different. Country music itself is not very prolific on the scene in Hong Kong, so Maybe I’m Stupid succeeds in adding a unique perspective to our day to day fare.
Drag Me Down hones in on Mr Nice Guy’s clear, pristine vocals. Highlighted by the electric guitar and light percussion, the track feels polished and well balanced in terms of postproduction. The guitar tone is clean, the chorus hook is extremely catchy, and with a smattering of 80s flair in the form of keyboard accents, Drag Me Down is refreshing in its simplicity.
Turn Back The Time (English) and You (Mandarin) go hand in hand as translations of one another. They are, in essence, breakup songs. Smooth vocals breathe attitude and life into the lyrics, which are surprisingly juxtaposed by a buoyant melody. It it hopeful despite being lyrically sombre, a technique used by artists to generate depth in otherwise generic or overwrought song themes. Here we see Mr Nice Guy in his prime, working with fluid instrument layers, stunning vocal arrangements, and a solid songwriting structure that hasn’t failed him once.
Closing act My Calling is a quintessentially emotive, rousing ballad; something from a Disney film sung by a protagonist at the eleventh hour. All keyboard synths and uplifting lyrics, the strong themes of self belief and inner strength make for family-friendly listening which is catchy and inspiring for all ages.
Stream Just Breathe and Maybe I’m Stupid now on Spotify! Or head to iTunes.
– Jasmine Gould-Wilson