2PM – Saint O’Clock (album review)

Saint O’Clock aims hard for granduesque. Does it actually achieve its goal ? We’ll see about this. The boys may not be the best looking fellas in the industry, but for what they lack in looks they surely make up for with their singing abilities. They don’t make ballad bands

Diva skills, I has them

without actual singers, do they ? I have my favorites :  Jo Kwon‘s lyrical voice ( he’s not only the drama queen among the Korean Icons, he’s the drama king in 2AM too as you can clearly see in Like Crazy’s PV ), he may look frail, but I’ve seen him working out crazily at the gym, and I have a thing for Changmin and his nasal trills. Also his quirky sense of humor cracks me up. Too bad KBS canceled the broadcast of Star Golden Bell. I have no knowledge of the other member’s sense of humor or diva-skills.

A few thoughts on the album as a whole before I begin dissecting one track at a time : although it contains a variety of musical influences  and the arrangements are top-notch, at one point the songs might start to sound a bit boresome. To sum it up the album consists of a serious amount of tear-jerkers. There are too many songs fighting for the most epic of them all spot. This is what happens when you add previous releases to the next album and you make little changes to the concept. Because of this, songs like No More or For Love Again fail to impress in spite of being decent songs.  Actually, now that I give the 2 a better listen I find them quite hard to digest and redundant to the context. Anxious at least has a nice low-key instrumental and a strong beat and manages to stand out of the crowd for a bit.
And another thing I’ve noticed : the boys do mostly solo parts, so not so many harmonies as I would like to listen, especially in a chorus and it is a pity because  those would round-up better some songs.

Now let’s discuss the ones I did enjoy listening to. For once I enjoyed an intro track. Phone really does makes sense in disclosing whatever secrets this album may have. You Wouldn’t Answer My Calls is sorrowful, as sorrowful as 2AM can be at its best. It is a great song indeed, but wait till you’ve listened to all of them.

Like Crazy. I wasn’t expecting another epic song to come right next after You Wouldn’t Answer. They’re quite similar and this does somehow level down my expectations.

Just Me. The song has a more positive feeling to it and it features ( at last ) some harmony in the chorus sung by Jo Kwon and Glam. Surprisingly how well a sexy female voice sounds alongside the boys.

Mirage is one of my favorites, we get some r&b, a slightly increased pace and the thing that startles me most is Changmin’s middle 8 part. Believe me, the first time I listened to it I had goose-bumps. It’s that good.

This album was in desperate need of a song like Love U, Hate U. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, it has swag and the rap parts are surprisingly good. It features a collabo with, I’m guessing 2 rappers from 방탄소년단, but I’m sensing 1 or 2 of the boys are delivering some lines too. After all, Jinwoon and Changmin are mentioned as rappers too in the description of the band.

With of Without You has a 90s feel to it, it’s more of a dance song and if they were to ask me I would have switched it with Like Crazy, just to balance the album a little bit. I love how well the piano and the sinths get along in this song, but I love them even more in the next one.

I Can’t Say That I Love you is my other favorite track. The instrumental part is kept low-key, the sinths and beats are old school, but the thing I like best are the chorus and Changmin in general. He really does a beautiful job towards the end of the song.

Final rating : 9.5/10

Boys, don't cry. I'm gonna start crying too if you do...

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Code V – Honestly (album review)

I am the perennial defendant of the weak and underrated. Code V boys belong to the last category. Not having a potent label behind you has its bitter price exactly when it comes to some of the most interesting faces in kpop. Music gives me a lot of satisfaction when I stumble upon an amazing piece of material. All those heavily promoted releases make me uneasy because I have expectations. The results are always one of the two : disappointment or ecstasy. Each with its own scale ranging from high to low. But I have a curious personality and the habit of always searching for something new. That’s how I met these 4 charming boys. Well, not personally, of course, though it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I managed to know them through Honestly, their last album. And, boy, it was with butterflies and the whole treat.

There isn’t much info to spare about them, they were 5, their leader left, now there’s 4 of them, they sing beautifully and they’re more talented than many of the heavily promoted faces in kpop. Now getting back to the actual reviewing, Honestly has some heavy stuff going on. I should warn you now, before you get to listen to the tracks : these boys kick ass at singing and especially at singing together. I’m talking here about Brown Eyed Soul kind of chemistry. I feel that soul sparkle coming from them. It’s vivid and most noticeable with their ballads.

In We’re Going To See Now I really like how the Haru Haru part sounds. I’m not so moved by I’m Sadder, the adlibs and rap sound extremely out-of-place for this album. Summer Love manages to be cutesy without sounding too cheesy.
And now let’s get to the songs I’m really exited about.

 Miracle is a marvelous old school r&b song, I’m loving the way it takes enough time and effort to build up, I’m living the climax and I even fancy the whole “we can fly” thing even though I’ve always hated that song by R.Kelly. You know which one I’m talking about. The one featuring Bugs Bunny. The best part has to be the one where we have 3 wonderful layers : the guitar solo, the choir and one of the member’s lovely vocals. Oh, it’s epic!

Go is the perfect dance song. The guitar riff I hear on the background is a very nice touch, the chorus blows my mind away with its beauty and the middle 8 adds more piano just enough to send me to fantasy-land. One thing does come as a turn off : the autotune in the end. Big no-no!

I like both versions of Addiction. They surely sound more kpop-like but nonetheless are very powerful songs. The cases when the remix versions of the songs sound as good as the originals are a rara avis in kpop. Usually, remixes are used solely for the purpose of filling a blank spot on the album and there’s usually little effort put in the actual new arrangement. Thankfully, this is not the case with Addiction.

Tell You Honestly really reminded me of something 2AM would sing. It has the same vibe as Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die, still

Yes, boy, number one!

these boys have more soul in them and the beat of the melody is more noticeable. The middle 8 and bridge manage to drain all energy out of me. These boys sing their hearts out in such a charming way and they get so little recognition ? They deserve to be DBSK big. Immediately!

Final rating : 9.8/10 ( And did I tell how handsome some of the guys are ? Ha ? HA? )

Homme (Changmin & Lee Hyun) – Man Should Laugh

The Homme duo project brought together two of my favourite men in the whole wide world : 2AM’s Changmin and 8eight’s Lee Hyun. The songs are not that special but the complementarity of their voices makes them spectacular. Also, they seem to have that chemistry only true love can create. Manly love, of course.
Seriously now, as a male duet is very hard not to look silly. To me, the now version of DBSK is redundant. Not to mention the fact that they lack a stable vocalist. Homme has two of them.
I really, really, really enjoy watching the MV for Man Should Laugh. I know, it’s illogical and hilarious because they obviously try hard to look angry at each other, but it’s fun. I honestly believe they would never fight, at least not over something so frivolous as a woman’s love. Maybe over who has the perfect pitch or better looks, yeah, something like that…
Final rating : 8/10