Album Review: DΞΔN – 130 Mood : TRBL

Release Date: 2016.03.24

Tracklist:

  1. 어때/Outro
  2. 풀어/Pour Up (featuring ZICO)
  3. Bonnie and Clyde
  4. What2Do (featuring Crush and Jeff Bernat)
  5. D (Half Moon) (featuring Gaeko)
  6. I Love It (featuring Dok2)
  7. 21

Total Runtime: 00:24:12

Recommended for: R&B and rap fans, lovers of the slow jam

NOT recommended for: Pop or rock fans

Up and coming K-R&B artist DΞΔN (also commonly written as DEAN) is here with his first album after making a strong debut Korea during the last quarter of 2015 with a single track. His mini album titled 130 Mood : TRBL is composed of seven songs. While some of the songs included are from past single releases, others are ‘never been heard before’ tracks. DEAN has worked extensively in the past writing and producing music for other artists in both the American and Korean music industry. Some recognizable names in Korea include Exo, Vixx, Winner and Lee Hi, though many other artists can credit some of their work back to DEAN. It’s no surprise then that he wrote all of the music and lyrics on the 130 Mood : TRBL album, alongside the other collaborators featured on it. He also features quite a few of them, from rappers Zico and Dok2 to fellow R&B singer Crush. Another interesting thing to note about this album is that DEAN has said that all of the songs are meant to be a narrative, with different tracks connecting to tell a love story. And wow, does he have a story to tell in this R&B masterpiece.

1. 어때/Outro

The first track on the 130 Mood : TRBL album is, interestingly enough, called “Outro.” And it’s such a fantastic start to album I really wish this was a full song. It starts the album off with a muffled sirens, frantic knocking, and an urgent voice saying, “It’s the police, open the door.” Then the piano backtrack of the song enters along with some staticy voices and string instruments. DEAN’s buttery smooth voice begins singing along to a sudden steady beat. He uses a notable amount of English lyrics throughout “Outro”, but they seem to fit seamlessly into the song, rather than coming off as try hard or unnecessary. There’s a bit of English profanity in this song (so maybe it’s not for the kids) but it’s not used overly offensively in my opinion. It’s primarily concentrated in the rap break at the end of the song. The rap is uncharacteristically slow though and, coupled with DEAN’s soft harmonies in the background, it suits the song and it’s grimy, dark sound.

2. 풀어/Pour Up (featuring ZICO)

Up next on the 13o Mood : TRBL album is the 2015 release “Pour Up” featuring Block B’s leader Zico. I loved this song back in 2015 when it was first released and  it hasn’t lost it’s charm even now. It begins with background music composed of widely spaced beats and a deep voice that sounds like it was run through a synthesizer chanting “Drink, smoke” three times before a “Pour up.” DEAN begins his singing with a voice like silk as more synthesized beats enter the backtrack. As the song proceeds, more and more layers enter the instrumental until the chorus ends and it begins the cycle again. There’s something so addictive about the “Pureo” repeated in the chorus of the song and dark harmonies that follow it and the final lines of the chorus. Zico enters the last part of the song (beginning with his classic Z-I-CO) and his quick rapping is an interesting change of pace to the song. It fits seamlessly with the instrumental and harmonies that continue throughout the breakdown and Zico’s rap itself is almost a bit singsong as well. He, as always, does a fantastic job of expressing emotion simply through his fast breakdowns. “Pour Up” ends with one final chorus and the backing track playing to a fade.

3. Bonnie and Clyde

We’ve reached the third song of the 130 Mood : TRBL album: “Bonnie and Clyde,” which has a music video accompanying it telling the modern story of these two infamous lovers. A dial tone and female voice begin the song, announcing, “We’re sorry your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again” in English. A very soft backtrack begins along with DEAN’s singing, placing an emphasis on his chocolate voice. Some harder-hitting synth beats enter the track as we near the chorus. It’s a little more electronica than some of the other more subdued tracks on the album. There’s also some reminiscently rap parts of this song, but they occur in just short phrases placed sporadically throughout the track. Most are accompanied with his singing in the background and are also in English. I will say DEAN uses English in his songs extraordinarily well. The lyrics never seem or sound out of place with the Korean lyrics and add a certain intrigue to his image. The ending of the song changes pace a bit and is also entirely in English, utilizing the repeated phrases, “I want, want you to know how much I love you, how much I need you.” Overall, DEAN’s moody “Bonnie and Clyde” does a stunning job portraying the eponymous lovers and their fiery but dangerous love affair.

4. What2Do (featuring Crush and Jeff Bernat)

“What2Do” is the 4th song on 130 Mood : TRBL and features the talents of R&B artists Crush and Jeff Bernat. Crush begins the song with his recognizable vocal tone after a short piano prelude and some standard R&B beats. Jeff Bernat sings the chorus entirely in English and his voice is a little softer and lower than Crush’s brighter vocal color. This effect, in addition to the overlays of harmonies in the chorus, bring certain resigned sadness to the song. DEAN then lends his slightly richer voice to the second verse, structured very much like the first, before Jeff Bernat returns in the chorus. The three men then take turns singing and ad-libbing the final verses of the song. Their voices are heaven together, each one blending into the next without being overwhelming. I particularly enjoyed Crush singing in his higher register accompanied by Jeff Bernat’s softer, dreamier vocals and think DEAN made a great choice in collaborating with them on “What2Do.” This track is very subdued, a little melancholy, but still a fantastic addition to the album.
5. D (Half Moon) (featuring Gaeko)

Next up is one of the title tracks of the album “D (Half Moon)” featuring Gaeko of the hip hop duo Dynamic Duo. It begins once more with the almost staticy tinkling of piano keys. Then DEAN’s slightly muffled voice croons, “Love – love the stars. Love – love the moon.” The verses of this song are very subdued and soft while the chorus features stronger notes from DEAN. The contrast works well with the strumming of synthesizer beats coupled with repetitive drumbeats in the instrumental of the song. Gaeko enters the song during it’s bridge in a transition that doesn’t leave much time between chorus and rap. He begins with a strong, quick rap before transitioning to a more sing-song rhythm as the instrumental of the song switches to accompany this change. Finally we get one more chorus from DEAN. The song ends with a return to the static-y singing of the beginning as all of the music falls away but a lone piano and DEAN. I will say there’s just something about his voice in this song that gets me. He really uses it like an instrument. DEAN doesn’t have to belt notes in an elaborate demonstration of power vocals to impress. It’s the slight nuance and flair he gives to his interpretation of the lyrics that brings his songs to life, as in “D (Half Moon).”

6. I Love It (featuring Dok2)

The penultimate track on the album is titled “I Love It” and features rapper Dok2. This song starts off with a bit of a brighter sound than the others. It stays true to DEAN’s R&B roots with its continuous rhythmic beats but there are some electronica and pop influences that are definitely present in the instrumental. It’s interesting because the verses are remarkably free from any sort of attention grabbing instrumental. However, a number of different effects enter during the song’s chorus, making it feel more explosive in contrast. And while it’s not as dark as some of the other tracks, it has a playful sexiness to it as DEAN very blatantly sings in English about the act of baby making in the chorus. As soon as his last note in the chorus ends, the thumping beats of the instrumental disappear and his next, verse begins. Dok2 enters the song after the second chorus with his quick flow that matches the beats that followed his arrival. Directly after this comes the bridge where DEAN is near singing acappella. At the very end, he actually does this as one by one the beats and instruments of the backing track disappear.This track isn’t a standout on the album in my books, but it still gets a gold star from me, especially for its creativity.

7. 21

“21” is the second title track and final song on the 13o Mood : TRBL album. While a few previous tracks carried a certain heaviness to them, this song is the most catchy and upbeat on the album. And I will say, it’s one of my favorites from the EP as a whole. The intro is very chill with just an electronic keyboard as the background music. Then DEAN enters with a “Hold up” and the quick beat of the instrumental begins. The pace stays fast until right before the chorus where it slows to give greater impact to the explosive chorus. DEAN stays in the upper range of his voice throughout the entire chorus, in contrast of the lower sound of the rest of the song. DEAN also incorporates a little bit of rap into some verses , but they aren’t very extensive parts. As always, he combines them effortlessly with his own background harmonies. It’s hard to explain what’s so enjoyable about this song, just have a listen. You’ll probably find yourself singing “She’s 2-2-21” to yourself unconsciously, it’s just too catchy.

Words can barely describe how much I love this album. It’s difficult to find albums where at least one filler song isn’t haphazardly included to fill out the track list, but this EP doesn’t have a single one. Every song is unique and beautiful. Of course there is an issue of taste to be considered and if you dislike R&B tracks, you might not be thrilled with DEAN’s album. I can honestly say I don’t think anyone would find it disagreeable though. Still, don’t look for some overproduced “bops” in his discography that will make you want to get up and dance. His music is mature, dark and a little bit moody. DEAN does a fantastic job of maintaining his signature sound across tracks while still making them diverse and special enough to sound different from other music in the R&B genre. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to big things in DEAN’s future and hope he continues to produce original quality content like the 130 Mood : TRBL album.


Replayability – GREEN

r21pIbREntire album confirmed to have a place on most recent playlist of loves 

Cohesiveness – GREEN

r21pIbRSongs on the album flow well together and maintain the same sound across the board

Originality – GREEN

r21pIbRSound is unique to artist and sets itself from other artists in the market

 

Wasta
If there's a Baekhyun, there's a way.

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2 thoughts on “Album Review: DΞΔN – 130 Mood : TRBL

  1. Wow what a review! I’ve been replaying Dean debut album since its release and you managed to describe exactly how I felt listenning to each and every song. I’m looking forward to reading future reviews of yours!

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