written by: MystifiedBulb
The second album always proves to be difficult. The real problem is in terms of definition: is it best to follow the musical direction carved by the first production or is it in the artists’ (and therefore, their respective entertainment company’s) best intentions to move into a new genre? Obviously, NU’EST are faced with this obstacle for their second EP ‘Hello’ and it could cause a relatively early demise for this fresh faced group.
It seems appropriate to discuss lead single “Hello” first. It provides a sweet and mellow opening to the album and the blend of acoustic R’n’B with meticulous electronic flourishes create a relatively interesting (unfortunately, not intensely gripping) listen. A particularly nice touch to this track is the gradual sense of evolution that is felt throughout – it is held together in a unifying way but still remains satisfying and contrasting between sections. Despite being pleasant overall, the track is not without its flaws, for example, the vocals are rather undynamic and lack the emotional capacity required to carry the song successfully. Perhaps this something that the group could work on for future releases as the issue of vocal delivery is prevalent throughout the album and somewhat reduces the overall quality.
NU’EST appear to have taken a rather risky move by avoiding to form a distinctive flavour for the whole album and have instead opted to make each track sound completely different to the last. Whilst this adds the benefit of being full of variety and not being monotonous, this does mean that each performer needs to be a jack of all trades which is incredibly difficult. Evidently so, it appears that NU’EST aren’t as proficient as it was anticipated (it should be noted that this isn’t entirely their fault; producers and managers should also be to blame) as they lack the diversity and distinction required for such a bold move. For instance, I found it incredibly difficult to determine one singer from another whereas with other groups such as SHINee or BIGBANG this is a lot easier and thus adds to the enjoyment of the music.
Continuing on from this point, tracks like the saccharine sweet “Introduce Me to Your Noona” eventually leave a bitter taste – the production is uninspired and the tone doesn’t fit with rest of the album. Similarly, “Just a Little Bit (feat Yoon Han)” feels unoriginal and doesn’t help to identify with the purpose of the group. For a ballad that should be intense and dramatic, the delivery is rather drab. Don’t misinterpret these criticisms, the song is pleasant enough, but it’s unmemorable.
Still, there are some joyful moments on the album. As mentioned before, “Hello” is pretty decent. Second track, “Hello Hello” is okay too – the track thrusts itself into EDM territory, but the production suffers from being watered down and sounding dated. “Beautiful Solo” is again, another contrasting genre. This song moves into a rock/dancepop crossover, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Super Junior production (if we’re being specific, it could be a light version of “A-Cha“). This track is probably the highlight of the album, serving as its catchiest song, but that doesn’t necessarily say much for the overall quality of the production.
The lasting impression of this album isn’t brilliant, to say the least. It seems to be confused, under-produced and lacking in definition or musical distinction. ‘Hello’ does indeed have its moments, but when those occur, they are hindered by either poor vocals or a sloppy production. Previous single “Face ” is much better than any track on this album and at times, there is a sense that “Hello” aims to replicate Face’s sound note-for-note. However, this ultimately leaves the record sounding like a poor knock-off rather than a strong musical statement.
|Introduce Me to Your Noona||
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|Just a Little Bit||
Points to stars conversion: [(2/5) 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.