written by: McRoth
I’m just going to cut to the chase: Big Bang just released their comeback mini-album, “Alive“, and if you think you smell something fishy, I can assure you that it’s every fanboy and fangirl’s collective jizz crusting on the floor after their simultaneous orgasms to Big Bang’s … release.
Hot on the heels of the release of “Blue“, one of their stronger musical efforts to date, comes the rest of “Alive”. The album takes all the glamorized electronica elements of last year’s “4th Mini-Album” and glamorizes them some more. This time though, they choose to lay off the glaring vocal processing in favor of a far more layered approach, something I think works wonders for Big Bang because they’re highly prone to individual vocal leads over group harmonies.
Big Bang sound great, and that’s the strength of “Alive”, because it focuses heavily on the crispness and clarity of the vocals and builds most of the remaining details around those aspects. The recordings are really nice and they make the overall delivery very easy to stomach. Even with G-Dragon auto-tuned to fuck, it still works.
In “Love Dust“, one of my favorite tracks on the album, you hear Taeyang, Seungri, and Daesung sing all pretty and clean on the verses, while G-Dragon and T.O.P are sprinkled with a bit more processing for added effect. It’s done really well, and it works nicely with the rest of the song.
In addition to better vocal treatments, “Alive” is also a lot more clutter free. It definitely has its moments when there’s a lot happening at once, but in no way is it loaded with extraneous details like Big Bang’s (and YG Entertainment‘s) music was a year ago. Instead, it grabs hold of a musical direction – be it electronica or hip-hop – and manages to remain focused whilst still bringing out all the best bits of the group.
“Bad Boy“, one of the better tracks on the album, has a really nice groove that is carried through the bass line with subtle crisp snaps cutting through the tension. I even think they could have gone without all the ambiances in the background because “Bad Boy” has such a strong flow that it would have been even more masterful with a simpler arrangement. Having just the drums, piano, and percussion leading Big Bang down the ghetto streets of New York City would have been excellent
“Bad Boy” MV
My only point of contention with this mini-album is the fact that it lacks originality and spirit. For all its tight production and star quality, “Alive” is not very inspired nor is it inspiring. Unless you count remaking a better version of LMFAO‘s “Party Rock Anthem” a source of inspiration (see: “Fantastic Baby“), “Alive” is otherwise extremely shallow. It’s something I find odd considering how much Big Bang keeps telling the press that they’ve grown from last year’s controversies and scandals. They’ve seriously milked their troubling 2011 across the board, so you’d think their group pains would manifest themselves in one form or another on “Alive”. Yet I get close to nothing, not even a minor emotional spark, and I think it was a missed opportunity when Big Bang could have made a far greater statement on such a crucial comeback.
I get the energy of these songs and what they were going for, but something about “Alive” feels contrived and limited as a package. Granted, this is pop music we’re talking about, and I can’t really say I was expecting something thought provoking, but it would have been powerful to hear at least an epiphanic side to Big Bang because they have that arsenal in the palm of their hands.
I will say that I’m not as let down as I was last year because I know most of these songs are strong and well pieced together. But even if that’s true, there’s still nothing particularly exceptional or timeless about “Alive”, and it hurts to say that because Big Bang are more than capable of making it happen.
What it boils down to is that I’m simply missing a layer of realness in the overall temperament of “Alive”, and I think for an album to succeed you have to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. Unfortunately, “Alive” doesn’t quite do that for me.
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via Asian Junkie