Album Review: Dreamcatcher – Prequel

Release Date: July 27, 2017

Tracklist*:

  1. Before & After (Intro)*
  2. 날아올라 (Fly high)
  3. Wake up
  4. Sleep-walking
  5. 괜찮아!
  6. 날아올라 (Fly high) (Inst.)*

Total Runtime: 00:18:36

Recommended for: Dreamcatcher fans, anime or simply Japanese pop/rock fans.

NOT recommended for: those who seek conventional and orthodox girl group tracks.

Happy Face Entertainment’s unique girl group Dreamcatcher is back with mini album “Prequel”. Despite a rush of summer comebacks, they opted not to release summer songs and instead continued to be content as themselves with “Fly High” as the album’s title track. The extended play consists of four (4) new tracks, one (1) intro track and one (1) instrumental track.

Track Review:

Track 2 – 날아올라 (Fly high)

It is a known gospel that Dreamcatcher primary existence in this world is to serve idiosyncratic triple-a tracks and in the face of summer-influenced market, they never falter. This time, with title track Fly High as the corroboration. The track starts with an admix of melancholy and mellifluous piano solo,  and as we are about to be drowned by the soporific melody (almost an homage to South Korean’s drama staple background music) we are instantly greeted with an 180° alteration from sonata to alternative rock. Dreamcatcher is most probably the salient girl group in K-Pop evidently influenced by Japanese Pop/Rock music style, you could say anime-centric opening and even ending soundtracks also play its part. A leitmotif for Dreamcatcher music.

Most K-Pop songs are either muffled or structured with wobbly blend of instrumental and vocal but Fly High has a rich, full accompaniment that complements the vocal track perfectly. Balance is a very important factor for me and luckily I managed to finish listening to Fly High in one go without getting annoyed. Neither are too loud or overwhelm each other (instrumental and vocal). Just nice. Fly High is a fast tempo track and the upbeat percussive beat throughout the song is very uplifting. Another prominent presence in this track is guitar riff. Albeit nothing spectacular. As for verses, simple yet very fitting to make way for powerful chorus which is basically what Dreamcatcher is all about. The pre-chorus is short but pacy enough as a final build up to the chorus (refrain). The chorus is very catchy but after a few plays I realized that it is actually quite tenuous. The chorus is good, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not good enough, or to be specific the hook lacks in detail. The bridge (middle eight) is quite long but for me that is necessary to avoid tedious repetitiveness.

Compared to their previous title tracks, Fly High fell short in terms of replayability. Overall song structure is finely arranged but the fine factor might be the reason of me finding it to be a little bland and forgettable. In spite of that, Fly High is arguably their best title track.

Track 3 – Wake up

Weirdly enough, I thought Wake Up was the title track because I listened to the entire mini album first before watching Fly High music video on YouTube. It’s easy to see why I felt that way. If you are searching for Dreamcatcher’s leitmotif, it’s here. But if you are wondering why Wake Up is not the title track, the counter-arguments are solid. First of all, it’s a Japanese pop/rock track (I’m just going to be honest with the actual genre from now on). A norm for the group but the possible main reason on why the label opted for Fly High as the leading track is to break constant musical theme used for continuous releases. A little deviation from their usual forte is needed to avoid humdrum releases and for a rookie girl group like Dreamcatcher, that is critical.

Wake Up is more up-tempo than Fly High, with noticeably more powerful beats. Unlike Fly High, Wake Up incorporates more guitar riffs to accompany vocals instead of percussions. You can say that this is their most powerful song yet. Although everything moves fast in this song, the members managed to harmonize well and the punchy “Wake Up!” phrase will stuck in your head for days. If you have trouble getting off your bed, set this song as your alarm tone.

Track 4 – Sleep-walking

It won’t be Dreamcatcher without subtle foreshadowing of their original concept. Sleep-walking, sounds about right. In case you didn’t get it, the group’s concept which includes music and video productions are strongly influenced by a dreamcatcher, a sacred item of Ojibwe culture although the group actually emphasized more on the concept of dream itself.

Sleep-walking is an alternative/techno pop song. The techno bit is surprisingly less strident and that allows us to appreciate the members’ attractive and distinctive vocal tone without much hindrance. The usual problem for a techno pop song is that the singer has to compete with accompaniment for domination, normally ends as a failure. Some would say a techno pop song is structured that way but that only works for a pure techno track. Sleep-walking is not. Like most K-Pop songs (a heaven for producers), most idol groups don’t incorporate pure musical style in their songs. They are bound to mix it with few others.

With all being said, fortunately Sleep-walking is a solid track in this EP and does not end up as a forgettable filler song.

Track 5 – 괜찮아! (It’s Okay!)

A ballad track in a K-Pop album is pretty much a staple. I won’t complain because ballad is one of my favorite music genre and South Korea basically provides the best of them. Idol groups are no exception. Dreamcatcher has capable singers like Siyeon, Jiu, and Yoohyun to prove critics wrong. I would be surprised if people are still questioning the group’s vocal talents after listening to this entire EP.

Dreamcatcher is an all action girl group and there is no better way to end our listening session with a ballad track as good as It’s Okay! The exclamation mark is not from me by the way! Their voices are so good and this track showcased it well. On top of that, the song itself is well produced. Everything a ballad lover like me craves for is here in this track. Not to mention, they still managed to pitch in some flavor of Dreamcatcher such as guitar riffs and conspicuous percussions.

*Both track 1 (intro track) and track 6 (instrumental track) are not reviewed


 

Review overview
Summary Dreamcatcher stayed true to their concept and image with their first mini album Prequel. Despite all the brouhaha going on this summer for beach and summer tracks. All tracks in this mini album are solid that promised good replayability. Being a hard-to-please person, I believe the title track Fly High could have gone extra miles with more power and additional sections to make it less tedious. But in reality nothing is perfect and this is the best that we can get. To sum up, a plus point to Dreamcatcher for being original and staying true to their colour. I relatively enjoyed listening to this mini album, but maybe not in a long run. Cheers Dreamcatchers!
4.5
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Rinne

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  • goldfish

    I really enjoyed the review!
    The mini album did not disappoint, let’s hope the public also appreciates what Dreamcatcher is bringing to the current kpop scene

    • rinne

      I hope so too, they bring something new to the table. And thank you!

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