Can I just say that I love the fact that this is a legitimate full album with 11 new tracks (plus the intro track) and not like four new tracks and and a shitload of instrumentals and remixes? Seriously, I love it, I love it, I love it. *claps hands in glee*
1. Intro – I love the melody and how they use the drums to build up the mood of the piece. There’s movement from simply romantic to something a little more melancholy, to something that’s a little more emotionally intense.
2. You Wouldn’t Answer My Calls – The melody is beautiful in its simplicity, and the combination of the string section with the piano and guitar is just lovely, doesn’t overwhelm the song at all. The only problem I have with the song is that there’s not much of a climax in the song so doesn’t sound like it goes anywhere. A key change or some ad-libs would have made this song perfect.
3. Like Crazy – The similarity between this song and Can’t Let You Go Even if I Die is extremely striking. I’m no expert of course, but I can hear a similar chord progression in the verses and chorus. I didn’t like the latter song so this is a bit disappointing, especially since this is a promoted track.
4. 바로 나야 (Feat. Glam) – I have to admit that I’m not much of a ballad person so this is a refreshing change of pace. Despite the shift in tempo though, there’s not too much of a deviation from the ‘feel’ of the previous songs so consistency is good. For more, I am in love with this song. I have no idea who this singer Glam is, but she her voice works wonderfully with 2AM, especially with Kwon, with whom she harmonizes in the chorus. Changmin does excellent work as well, his high note during the bridge is just splendid.
5. Mirage – Not my favorite off the album, but I love how smooth the transition was from the last song to this one, in terms of mood. This song has a great sort of RnB feel for me and I like how they incorporated techno elements without completely techno-fying the song. It’s not as vocally intense as the previous songs but i think the fact that 2AM can also rein it in for more pop-py songs like this is a good measure of their ability.
6. 다시 사랑하기엔 – This would have been my first choice for title track. I love the arrangement of the song (the plucked guitars *O* I swear, plucked guitars are my weakness. More than that, incorporation of the drums make the song a little less melancholy without taking away the emotion), and it’s got a really great build-up to it. I think producers often forget that a ballad needs to have that climax or else it sounds really incomplete.
7. 이젠 없다 – Again, this song is not my favorite, but it’s not bad. Definitely fits in with the rest of the songs in the album, melody-wise, and I like the very subtle shift in the tempo when it transitions from the verse to the chorus. I also like the fact that it not only brings us to that climax, it also brings us down as well.
8. 불안하다 – The English translation of this song is ‘anxious,’ and it’s actually quite fitting because that’s the overall mood that I felt from the song. It’s a bit more upbeat than their usual ballads but you feel it in the transitions from verse to chorus, which are a bit abrupt, almost as if they were anxious to convey the message of the song. I feel it especially in that key shift nearing the end. There’s no bridge, just the key shift, and then fade to end. I wonder if that was done on purpose. In any case the arrangement of the song is lacking that complexity that you find in the previous songs, but that simplicity really works here.
9. Love U, Hate U ft. 방탄소년단 – One of my favorites! I love everything about it, from the melody to the arrangement…I usually don’t like it when producers insert that random rap just so they can say that the song has a hip hop, RnB flavor, but it works really, really well with the song and the featuring rapper is really good. The chorus is really simple but it suits the very light overall tone of the song. The random autotune is a little iffy though; 2AM is one of the groups that don’t ever need it so I think they could have done without.
10. With or Without U – This song would have been my second choice for promotional song if they wanted to try going in the “dancing balladeers” direction. Again, there was there was a heavier use of techno effects but the subtle piano melody, coupled with the guitars in the middle 8 works to make it something more than just a techno song. And of course, the vocals are just wonderful.
11. 사랑한단 말 못해 – This is probably my least favorite song on the album but it’s actually not a bad way to end things. Changmin does really good vocal work here – his adlibs are A+, and I’m glad that he and Jo Kwon get to harmonize, even if it’s just a little bit.
General Comments: This album only reinforces my belief that good things happen when you let people who are not JYP produce your songs. While I’ve pretty much been a fan of 2AM since their debut, I have to admit that their previous releases were beautiful but also BORING AS HELL. The Can’t Let You Go Even if I Die mini-album really showed that they are flexible, in terms of being able to do different genres, and Saint O’Clock is a testament to that capability and also to their growth as musicians. Production is just A+, there’s variety but there’s also consistency, which is something that a lot of idol albums lack.
The only thing I don’t like about the album is that even the choruses are sung by individual members and that’s kind of…contradictory. I want to hear some harmonies, man! 2AM is really trained for this sort of thing – their voices are really distinct and I think that it’s this quality that would make them able to harmonize beautifully with each other and also be able to pull it off in live performances as well. Hopefully this is something that the producers address with the next release because while all of the songs were good, there were certain songs that would have been brilliant had there been harmonies.
I think we have a contender for K Reviews Best Album of the Year. 5/5 😀