Mastermind by BEAST

The short of it: This’ll be the album where I think Beast establishes firmly who they are as a group and as a sound. The neutral kpop listener will appreciate the complete package that Breath is, and fans, well, they will adore it.

take-a-fourth: Breath, V.I.U (Very Important U)

Tracklist: 01. Mastermind 02.  04. Break Down 05. Clenching My Fist Tight

Tackling the titular single, I think Breath is indeed the song in the album that best serves the function: it’s catchy and rock-able, and more importantly, it’s identifiably Beast. Sure there’s a certain 2pm “Again and Again” sound to it in the beginning, but queue in the layering of rapping and riffing seconds later, you know it can only come from Beast. The thing for me that carried over from shock are these really good build-ups to the chorus (I am addicted to these in both songs). The downside to these is that the build-up might be too much, but after a few listens, I’ve come to like the chorus of Breath a lot. When it gets to the “breath in, breath out” part, my first impressions were that I wanted it to be more ‘beastly’, but the more I listened to it, i began to look forward to these: it’s one of the parts where the song and composition may take over the vocals, but sometimes a song is also good in letting this happen. As for Yeosob’s “I don’t know” part: I’m on the fence on this one: he hits it pretty well but there’s somehting off and unsmooth about it. I of course have always been a fan of Junhyung, and the subdued rap is a welcome change: he’s just a dynamic rapper.

“Clenching my Fist Tight” is the slowest song of the album, I like the way the chorus is sang, and again, the same goes for the subdued rapping. However, I got to be honest: I don’t think I care for it much. The bridge, for example, is something I’ve heard before, though this is really a personal thing. I’ve noticed it’s harder for slower kpop songs to get to me because there’s a sense they’re very formulaic, while it’s the faster dance-pop songs that get creative. But really that’s just me, loads of fans just love the great vocals here (which I do find is true). Breakdown is a mid-paced song. I found it to be a layering of many sounds that I’m surprised the vocals during the chorus brings noticeable dynamics (which is props to the boys though probably a signal to dial down the production sometimes). Noteworthy is that I enjoyed both the riffing and the background vocals in the chorus just as much. Mastermind is, and i don’t know when these started becoming the norm, of the short introductory track. It sounded a bit like the who’s next of 4minute’s latest album HuH: generally an alright track that got a bit nasally at times.
Now for the other song I liked: Very Important U (v.i.u.). So I suggest you get over the title (it was absurd to me), because this is a good fast paced song. I loved that it had great stanzas rightly sung in those higher registers, and when it picks up with the repeating notes, it just becomes danceable. Great yoesob here, and again the rapping + layering is done really well.

So all in all, a decent album generally, there’s be great choreography with the title track that will be just enough to push the album into worth buying. As for the rest of us Beast fans, you’ll be satisfied. The boys are growing in their own styles: i.e., I know when it’s AJ or when it’s the maknae (though that’s always been Beast’s strength: they’ve differentiated each other within the group you remember them). I dislike the under-use of Junhyung here in the sense that he does well in the album but the way he rapped in Shock for example, which was very well mind you, wasn’t used here.

Mastermind:

Break Down:

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