the short of it: it’s light and easy pop shifted slightly towards a more sophisticated sound using smart genre-sampling, so it’s catchy and cute but also classy enough that the older ones among us might get caught.
take-a-fourth: 다시 돌아와 (Come back again), She’s back, 날개 (Wings), 맡겨 (Entrust)
track list 01. ∞ 02. 다시 돌아와 (Come back again) 03. She’s back 04. 날개 (Wings) 05. 붙박이 별 06. 맡겨 (Entrust)
chariteee teaches to bide your time when it comes to idol group debuts: there’ll be a lot of them, and you want to wait for time to whittle them down before becoming emotionally attached. But two catchy and sophisticated songs from a debut has made me well, and excuse me for this, come back again. So the choice to review the album was also a challenge to chariteee: I had hoped to find more than two good songs in the album.
The verdict is that it’s actually a good album, but not in clear cut ways. Production and original genre-choice are actually what make the album, though the boys have yet to develop into remarkable singers. You’ll be treated to great unique and upbeat songs for the most part; it’s a breath of fresh air from the current kpop scene, and only due slightly to the fact that no autotune is used in the album.
“다시 돌아와 (Come back again)” is just a well-composed catchy song self-described as a mix of vintage rock and electronica. It’s neither the club nor dance beat ruling kpop nowadays, but it samples from a classic genre so it’s recognizable. I love the guitars-horns-strings sounds in this song, and with a fine rap, a great bridge (gotta love the breakdance here) and a great final chorus, there’s very little bad to be said about the song. Add in the digestible and entertaining choreography executed sharply and perfectly-synchronized, you actually fall for it. And where “다시 돌아와 (Come back again)” got me in, the 90’s-style “She’s back” hooked me. Retro and feel-good, it’s an easy song to get stuck in your head, you kind of just want to join in when they start that progression through the scale. And it doesn’t help that the chorus is thick and textured just the way I like it, and i absolutely love the instrumental part of the song.
“날개 (Wings)” would probably be their dance track, but again, it’s not the kind in kpop nowadays. With a background of fast strings, you’ll actually want to listen to it and appreciate it. It also uses a great insert of the rap at the climax of the song. “맡겨 (Entrust)”, which starts like a modernized Jackson Five song, is another favorite of mine (from the same place in my tastes that loved SHINee’s “Wowowow”: oh me and songs about blissful love), though it might be too bubble gum pop for some. (And since I only have one whole song left) “붙박이 별”, the ballad of the album, is actually decent (and may have been a pick if I didn’t like the other songs more).
In summary, a run-through of the album will get you very interesting and generally light catchy tracks, sampled (very originally I might add) from interesting ‘older’ genres: it’s a great listen. Now the bad side to all of this? They don’t quite escape sounding like a rookie group. In fact, chariteee and I have joked about there might being only two talented people in the group (I have a bias toward the charismatic rapper DongWoo and the leader and Jaebom look-alike Sung Gyu). You’ll find the hugely disproportionate sing times (Sung Gyu taking most of it), and you’ll wonder, apart from making the great choreography work, why we need some of the members. The songs are great yes, but they’re not sure-fire hits. “날개 (Wings)”, for example, is almost amazing, but the ending is wanting for more powerful riffing. It’s almost there, but not quite yet. Listen to “붙박이 별” and though it’s quite endearing, you’ll realize they’re still just young boys singing. I’ll give the performing to the boys, yes, but I’ll give the win of the album to the lyricists, composers, and producer for great original songs (I mean if Epik High’s Tablo, who I just found out graduated from Stanford and has an IQ of 180, is working with you, what else would you expect?). So a noble effort by the group, the dancing and performing was enough this first round. You’ve piqued my interest enough that I’ll look forward to your next album, but I’m also expecting that the vocals will get a lot lot better, and that you’ll start asserting individuality somehow. Get there and we might just consider fanboyism.