written by: drowningn00b
There are artists that aim to have a varied approach to their music. For better or worse, f(x)’s many-varied approaches to pop music haven’t quite stuck, hence the current silence of a future f(x) project. Quartet vocal group M4 went so far as to release a mini recently that included four solo tracks, each touching on different genres, including metal.
For “Rebirth”, 5tion does the same thing, including a ballad, an electro-rock song and a hip-hop party track in their album. But is it too diverse?
5tion (pronounced “ocean”), officially disbanded six years ago, pursuing careers outside of the music, and Son Il Kwon became a shopping mall owner. When Oh Byung Jin‘s contract with SM Entertainment fell through, he got the original members (Lee Hyun included) back and added Lan and Boseok to the mix, thus the five guys you see today. Rumblings of a comeback came after the teaser release of “Let’s Get Married” appeared, and a full-fledged mini release of “Rebirth” coincided with the release of “Papillon”.
The first single, “Let’s Get Married”, is a wonderful ballad. The song benefits from the harmonies between the guys and the guys individually. They won’t blow your mind, but they are solid singers (though the rapping needs considerable work).
The lead single, “Papillon” – an electro-rock song – was surprising. After “Let’s Get Married”, they ditched the sap and went for loud. “Papillon” is pretty good, though a bit short. The harmonies of the previous single are ditched for shouted hooks, but the rest of the song is sung well – almost too well. It seems a shame they don’t garner much attention because they sing better than a large portion of other boy bands. The electro-rock production isn’t to M&D standards, but it’s still good regardless. 5tion have the pipes to pull off this song, singing well enough to keep the song from becoming a shout-fest.
Lastly, we have the hip-hop track, “Deep Slow”, that is all bass and relies heavily on whispered lyrics. Thankfully, 5tion breaks it up with a well-sung bridge, a reminder that the whispering is just a gimmick for the song. The production on the song isn’t too bad, with a fuzzed string loop when the song hits its amped-up stride, and a transition from finger-snapping to hand-clapping depending on how loud or soft the song is going. I would’ve liked the song more had it not been for the over-use of the chorus arrangement. The stutter effect after each line is fine, if it wasn’t done for each chorus. The effect would’ve been unique to the song for the last one, as a way to break the monotony of the previous two choral segments, but as it stands now, the effect is just there and loses its uniqueness after the second segment. Still, it’s a solid party song and does its stated purpose.
The biggest problem with “Rebirth” is not with any individual song, but it as a collection of songs. There isn’t a single narrative told here. The songs don’t tell a complete story in their sequencing. How do you go from “marry me”, to “come back to me”, to finally, “let’s get out of here and have sex”? It would’ve made sense backwards, but even then the tale gets confusing. The genres do not mix together at all. “Rebirth” is three different singles with nothing holding them together. I can’t even say that 5tion is the glue because their approach is different in each. Sunny Hill’s “The Grasshoppers” may not have told a full story, but it had a cohesive sound throughout its three tracks. And the three tracks from the debut “I’m Poison” from A.Y. convey an independent girl. Three tracks can share things in common apart from the artist(s) singing them, and “Rebirth” fails utterly at this.
“Rebirth”, in its individual parts, is good, and surprising, giving the vocal ability from the guys of 5tion. “Let’s Get Married” is a fantastically sung ballad, “Papillon” is fun and “Deep Slow” is sexy, in a whispered way. However, they are too different from another to be included under one header. These songs don’t answer the question, “why ‘Rebirth’?” Is it from sex? Love? A previous failed attempt at garnering attention? If it’s the latter, then the reincarnation failed to get that.