K-POP / REVIEWS

[Review] [Album] Speed – ‘Superior Speed’

2013_speed_02

written by: wordkills

Perhaps realizing that funneling all of their money into one artist is a poor investment decision, Core Contents Media has finally decided to debut SPEED. After getting shafted with a rather bad (to put it nicely) cover of T-ARA’s “Lovey Dovey” last year, the boys are back with not just one original song, but an entire album of them.

The album opens with “Bang Bang.” Its hook is a playful jab at Block B’s “Nanrina.” (Seeing as Zico’s brother Taewoon helped write the track, it’s obvious that the similarities are intentional, rather than a blatant ripoff.) The song is fun, sure, but it drags itself out far too long to be a proper intro track. On top of being redundant, it’s also misleading. It promises an upbeat, club-banger filled album. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

It’s Over” is the closest to the sound that “Bang Bang” promises us. Actress Park Bo Young features as a guest vocalist, and while she sounds quite pretty, her voice doesn’t add much to the song. Fortunately, in a miraculous case of hindsight on CCM’s part, this is remedied by the inclusion of an “only SPEED” version of the song, which replaces Bo Young with the group’s own vocalists. With Bo Young out of the picture, the song flows far better. Their title track isn’t particularly innovative — it has some pretty serious 1:59PM era 2PM vibes going on — but that’s okay. It doesn’t ever try too hard to be anything more than what it is: a catchy (albeit angsty) dance track.

Their pre-release track “That’s My Fault” is an angst-charged rap ballad, circa 2007 and 2008. “That’s My Fault” is essentially a unit song, because only three members — Taewoon, Sungmin, and new member Sejoon — feature on it. Seeing as all of the members are in the music video, it’s confusing to understand that this was a purposeful decision, rather than the worst case of line distribution k-pop has ever seen. The rapping ability in this group is actually very strong, which is something their previous work with Co-ed never hinted at. The mix of Minkyung of Davichi’s vocals, the aggressive instrumental, and the rapping makes this song one of the best on the album.

After the first few rap-heavy tracks, “Luv Ya” comes as a pleasant surprise. The strings in the instrumental make for a light-hearted track that finally lets the vocalists in the team shine. Similarly, the upbeat track “I Do, I Do” follows in the same vein. Both songs, while fairly simplistic, are pretty and suit the vocal range of SPEED’s vocalists.

At this point on the album, it’s obvious that excellent blending of vocals and rapping is the one strong suit SPEED has. That, coupled with the guitar instrumental on “Never Say Goodbye” makes for one of the better songs on ‘Superior Speed.’ The last track on the album, “All Day Long” is a standard ballad. It’s emotionally charged and they sound great on it, but nothing about the track jumps out at the listener.

==

There is a cohesiveness within SPEED that, admittedly, I was not expecting. With their auto-tune laden roots, it’s an incredibly nice surprise to hear them stripped down on this album. Their debut song isn’t amazing by any means; it crosses dangerously into the cookie cutter side of k-pop. The style seen in the last few songs of the album (as well as their pre-release track) suits SPEED well, and it’d be nice to see them go in that direction with later releases, rather than the dance-pop route.

==

Scorecard

Bang Bang
0
It’s Over
.75
That’s My Fault
1
Luv Ya
.75
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Never Say Goodbye
.75
I Do, I Do
.5
All Day Long
.5
Total Points
4.25

Points to stars conversion: [(4.25/7) x 5] + 0.25

3.3/5


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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