Rookie idol group (how long until I can stop calling them rookie? lol) Beast is back with their new mini-album Shock of the New Era and I for one am very excited because not only are they my favorite rookie group at the moment, I’m also quite intrigued by this ‘rocktonic’ sound that they claim to have created. I know, I know, in K-pop one should never get ones hopes too high up but whatever they come up with, I’m pretty sure they’ll pull it off well.
I was worried about giving the boys too much praise so I’ve brought in a co-reviewer, my 15-year-old sister Ela (who prefers MBLAQ) to sort of balance out the review since she tends to look at things a little more objectively than I do. It took me a while to convince her though and I was a little frustrated by her general lack of responsiveness (she’s like, “yeah, it’s okay. No, I don’t like it.”) but hey, we’re still figuring how this co-reviewing thing is going to work since I might convince her to try it more often (like say for MBLAQ’s comeback, *coughcough*)
1. Just Before Shock
Kaye: I really like it, shame it’s not a full song. The melody is rather mellow and soothing, but the beat is strong enough to dance to if one wanted to. I wonder who’s doing those runs near the end though because he totally killed it.
Ela: In general, I’m not a big fan of slow songs, but I like how this sounds. It actually reminds me of songs from the ’90s, like RnB or something.
Kaye: I initially gave this song a rather bad review for not being as strong as I expected it to be (a K-note to all K-pop producers: DO NOT INVENT NEW GENRES) but it actually grew on me after awhile. Then the MV came out and then BAM, it grew on me a lot more. It’s still not uber-love for me, though. As a promotional song, it’s not quite as strong or memorable as it could’ve been. I hope they switch up the choreography during promotions though because it was okay but the boys totally could’ve done much better.
Ela: For some odd reason, I couldn’t really imagine strong choreography coming out of this one but I guess they proved me wrong. I saw the MV, it was okay but I got really dizzy. I also keep hearing “everynight I SHUCK” which put very dirty thoughts in my head. I think it sounds too familiar. I’ve probably heard this song before from another idol group so I don’t think it’s anything special.
Kaye: I think I finally found the ‘rock’ in ‘rocktonic’ – in Yoseob and Gikwang’s voices! I’m not a fan of the club sort of sound and the backing track is a little too busy for my taste but I really like the rawness and rough quality of their voices (don’t ask me to explain because I don’t understand it myself) because it gives a rather lacklustre, “yeah, I’ve heard this song before” song a little extra kick.
Ela: This sounds so badass. I like it. The song gives me a vibe that says, “I need to save my girlfriend from the bad guys!!111” Soundtrack-worthy, danceable and very, very catchy. 4 1/2 stars 😀 This is my favorite song from the mini-album.
4. Take Care of My Girlfriend (Say No)
Kaye: I’ve heard people say that it sounds a little like Taeyang’s Wedding Dress and I kind of agree, but the truth is that I found Wedding Dress kind of…bland. The weird thing is that even though I don’t really like too much electronic stuff happening in the background, the arrangement pretty much made this song for me. My nitpick though is that there’s not really a ‘climax’ in the song so it sounds the same althroughout. 😐
Ela: I like it! I feel the emotions in their voices and can totally picture them performing it.
Kaye: Probably my favorite song out of the entire mini-album. At first listen, you think it sounds like just another ballad but I think it sounds really mature and I think it really shows off their vocals, even Hyunseung’s, and I always thought that his rather high, nasally voice sounded like it was naturally autotuned. I also really like Dongwoon’s voice in this; it’s really distinct and gives a really relaxed feel to the song.
Ela: Like I said, I’m not a fan of slow songs, but Beast might just change my mind about that. MIGHT.
Kaye: 4/5, I think. A big part of what made this mini for me was the raps. I usually have a love-hate relationship with raps in Korean songs because sometimes the songs really don’t need it but the rather awkward Engrish notwithstanding, I couldn’t imagine the songs without them. It’s not so much the presence of the raps themselves but how they were delivered, ie: Junhyung’s oft-praised ‘swagger.’ As far as rappers go, I think he’s extremely competent, one of those rare idol-rappers that can pretty much deliver every time (as opposed to the idols who are just assigned the role because they really can’t sing at all, or just because they’re English-speakers). And he supposedly writes most of his own raps? Bravo, young sir, bravo. *applause*
Musically, though, my only complaint about this album is that nagging feeling that I’ve heard these songs before. I suppose I shouldn’t really complain since it’s K-pop and there’s not much originality going on in these here parts, but production-wise, Cube’s gotta step up. You can’t say ‘fresh and unique and rocktonic’ and have it sound like every other album out there.
The good thing about Beast though is that all of them have such incredible presence. They just command your attention every time they perform, and you never feel like there’s this one member who’s pulling all the weight or one member that’s slacking off. I think you could probably give them a song with all the names in the phonebook and they’d still perform the hell out of it, with Junhyung making raps out of the funniest sounding names or something. I’m proud of them and I think they’ll go really far.
Ela: 3/5. Overall, the album sounds good, but I don’t think it was as good as their debut mini-album. I didn’t enjoy it to the point of having the lyrics stuck in my head for the next few weeks. And what ‘rocktonic’ are they talking about? What is this exactly? I didn’t hear anything that even kind of sounded like rock. That was a fail, Cube.
But I agree with ate Kaye that they are really good performers.