written by: McRoth
One of the best ways to know you have come to terms with an inherent liking for a K-Pop group is when you’re no longer apprehensive or cautious about their comebacks. It’s something I can’t say for many today, but there is one new exception: Korean pop-rock quartet CNBlue.
Having dipped into rounds of redundancy and banality a couple years ago (a curse for many), CNBlue felt less genuine then than when they segued into K-Pop in the first place (early 2010). But last year was different. 2012 was a re-inspired year for CNBlue, as they began long promotions in Japan that culminated with the release of their full length album ‘Code Name Blue‘, an excellent idol album in its own right.
This month, they return to Korea with their 4th mini-album, ‘Re:Blue‘.
The prefix says it all. This mini-album is in many ways a return to CNBlue’s first steps into Korean pop music, but also very much a fresh new take on their recognizable pop-rock style. It only takes a listen to their new single “I’m Sorry” to hear this pan out in full, as frontman Yonghwa leaves the “dibidi-dibidi-doo” trills far behind and picks up slicker hooks and melodies for stronger dimension (his hand in composition shines across this mini-album).
Everything from the subtly spooky keys in the background to Jonghyun‘s static interjections between verses – not only does the composition feel new, but invites all kinds of interesting elements that create a rather hard-hitting pop single; definitely one of CNBlue’s strongest, and possibly their best work on a lead track in recent memory.
And yet, one can’t help but think that even CNBlue were becoming aware of their repetitive formula and finally came to rewrite it altogether, as even the B-side tracks on ‘Re:Blue’ welcome significant change and pleasant arrangements abound. “Coffee Shop” layers in wispy synths among the twang of CNBlue’s bass lines, sounding very Maroon 5 and very retro. “나란 남자” does the same, albeit in a far less interesting way (rendering it the weakest track on the album). And then there is “나 그대보다“, the lightest mid-tempo on ‘Re:Blue’. Fans of CNBlue and spectators alike know that if there is one bonus to listening to the vocal line in the group, it’s hearing Jonghyun’s velvety smooth singing on anything. He gets his turn on this song, which echoes the heart of “I Will … Forget You …” off CNBlue’s first mini-album, ‘Bluetory‘, with a well balanced change in pace in the chorus. It’s a lovely mid-tempo track and very much true to the group’s musical aesthetic today.
But if there is one song that truly pushes CNBlue’s sound on this EP it’s “La La La“. It opens with an eerie arpeggiated piano riff that you hear faze in and out throughout the duration of the song, with a contrasting change in mood as the song builds to the chorus. As “La La La” tackles the notion of being confused by love, the hints of overlapping positive and negative colors comes across beautifully. It’s a real treat that CNBlue has decided to cross perform it live on music shows recently.
CNBlue have already known who they are as a pop-rock group, so to hear them continue to play with their style and try out fresh ideas (and pull them off pretty well at that) is as comforting as it is exciting. It’s great to hear these guys grow, and ‘Re:Blue’ is a nice example of what that is supposed to sound like.
| Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|La La La||
|Where You Are (English Ver.)||
Points to stars conversion: [(4.75/6) x 5] + 0.25*
*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.