Album Review – NCT #127’s Mini Album ‘Cherry Bomb’


Release Date: June 14, 2017

Track List:

  1. Cherry Bomb
  2. Running 2 U
  3. 0 Mile
  4. Sun and Moon
  5. Whiplash
  6. Summer 127
  7. Cherry Bomb (Performance Version)

Total Runtime: 00:24:40

Recommended For: Those who enjoy energetic tracks with either hip hop or funk influenced beats.

NOT Recommended For: Ballad lovers – though there is one track on the album, Sun and Moon, which is relatively slower than the rest.

On the 14th of June, SM Entertainment’s seemingly favoured unit under the brand NCT known as NCT 127 made a comeback with their third mini album – Cherry Bomb. This explosive release was a milestone for the group as it resulted in their first win on a music show! As a fellow NCTzen that highly anticipated this album, I was both impressed and surprised by the musical direction NCT took with each track featured. The album contains 7 tracks, but I’ll only be reviewing 6 as the final track is a rehash of the title track, Cherry Bomb.

Track Review:

Track One/Title Track – Cherry Bomb

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With what sounds like the spinning of a record mixed with another electrifying component, the title track ‘Cherry Bomb’ begins. Instead of building up musically, it instead features vocals that start the song off in a way that differs to most of NCT’s previous title tracks. They repeat one catchy line partially consisting of the key words ‘Cherry Bomb’, their voices electronically layered over one another. Then, starting off as an echo that gradually gains volume, the music seems to arise. Then, the ever-present bass that stays prevalent in most of NCT’s music kicks in, giving a much-needed kick to the music. This is followed by synths that fade in and out of the background and the repeated line of ‘I’m the biggest hit on this stage’.

Mark then begins the first chorus with quite a throaty rap, supported by a more grime-esque beat. His lines flow fluidly – which was expected by his talented countenance – and he impresses once more. Taeyong’s rap follows, making up the second half of the first rap verse. His rap has improved substantially from the growls he featured in Limitless, flowing in time with the beat and posing as another half to Mark’s own verse. With the completion of the verse the song falls back into repetition, getting quite predictable. This momentarily changes when a new line is introduced – a questionable one at that, which consists of the nostalgic phrase ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’. The musical score simply repeats itself as the chorus concludes, with a variation being that the second verse consists of vocals and not rapping.

However, after the second chorus, the song takes an interesting turn. It in effect breaks down with the help of Jaehyun’s vocals. This is when a more R’n’B synth pops up, and the music style fluctuates in order to allow this stylistic turn. Doyoung’s vocals follow, supported by a harmony that resonates pleasantly. Once Taeil’s voice chimes in, this vocal break improves the song significantly – though it sounds like a completely different track. His smooth vocals successfully execute as much of a high note that can be crammed into a song of such a hip-hop genre.

Then the music pans, and a strong bass sounds, making the song quite mellow and relaxed as Mark starts to rap. Then, the intensity increases as his rap continues, transitioning into a dance break. The heavily electronic beat takes the stage for this moment before the song once more reverts back to its previous rhythm. Honestly, this track was not at all what I’d expected for a title track, and is such a whirlwind of music that it’s overwhelming, yet addictive. It understandably garnered mixed reviews but is a track that I enjoyed.

Track Two – Running 2 U

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This song starts off in a very interesting and fairly unique way. Synth features as the forefront of this track in its beginning, followed by the members announcing their group name, ‘NCT’. After a few moments of vocal silence, the tone suddenly drops and the music diverges into a very hip-hop style. The bass pulsates heavily, and Mark begins the first verse with both rap and a smooth flow. This is followed by Taeyong’s rap, the tempo of the music increasing as the hip-hop fuses with the more experimental music featured on this track.

It all fades for a vocal break from Jaehyun and Taeil, supported with chords. Then the track takes an interesting turn to the synth riff that features, which continues into the first half of the second verse before dropping. The song itself is more structured than Cherry Bomb and seems to have more direction than the previous track, which makes it more interesting to listen to.

Track Three – 0 Mile

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From the beginning of this song it’s funky beat is prevalent, making it seem like a track that fits into the genre of pop well. It’s very upbeat, the tempo of the music in tune with the claps sounding in the background of this track’s beat. The song begins with an unlikely duet from Doyoung and Taeyong which Haechan chimes in to sporadically. Johnny exercises his skills in speaking the English language before the song diverts into the first verse. This is where, in time with Jaehyun’s vocals singing about the ‘beat’ he feels, the funky beat of the song grows in volume and presence.

Yuta’s harmonious vocals show that this song focuses more on the vocal skills of the group compared to many of the other tracks, which are predominantly rap. The chorus itself features the whole group’s vocals, though the lines are clearly heard from both Taeyong and Jaehyun respectively. The songs catchy hook makes the track feel-good and perfect for dancing to. This continues throughout the second verse with the help of Haechan and Doyoung. There’s a short rap break after the second chorus which creates variation in the track, but overall it follows quite a cyclical rhythm and beat.

Track Four – Sun and Moon

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This song starts off with quite a peaceful melody, making it differ greatly from the previous tracks on this album. It only features Jaehyun, Doyoung and Taeil, the groups main vocalists. This already creates a slow pace for the track and shows it will be heavily focused on the vocal aspects of the group’s talents. This is an interesting development musically as NCT 127 have been mainly viewed as a ‘hip hop’ group, and was a refreshing turn out for the fourth track on this album. It’s entrancing melody is followed with Jaehyun’s soft vocals, which slow down the tempo of the song. These are complemented with Doyoung’s unique vocals, which then makes the pace of the track quicken fractionally as a beat becomes more noticeable. His voice blends into a transition with which Taeil takes the stage, singing with his honey vocals, yet is still quite subdued.

The chorus is an anticlimax consisting of repetition, the words ‘you and I’ creating a very mellow and soft sound. This track continues on into the second chorus in this way, showcasing the beautiful vocal techniques that are sometimes hidden under all the rap in NCT. Due to the nature of this song, it take its rightful spot as one of my favourite tracks from this album and is beautifully composed. Though it’s a shorter track than the others, it’s still a gorgeous listen.

Track Five – Whiplash

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After the unpredictable surprise that was ‘Sun and Moon’, we’re back to the hip-hop vibes that give NCT 127 their name with this track. Named ‘whiplash’ quite fittingly, this song revolves around the focus of lyrics about a girl and rap – a fitting pair regarding NCT’s previous albums, featured on tracks like ‘Baby Don’t Like It’. This song starts with Taeyong’s distorted voice over a synth, Jaehyun’s vocals chiming in to support him. The track suddenly becomes much more hollow, and Mark’s rap at the start of verse one is the forefront of the track temporarily. He showcases his technique, his flow of rap still as impressive as ever.

This then transitions into the trap influenced chorus, which follows the same melody as the beginning of the track. The second verse consists of Taeyong’s rap, which has also greatly improved over the time between NCT’s last release and this album. The song continues in a very cyclical manner, the rhythm never really fluctuating but overall it is an enjoyable listen. It stays true to NCT 127’s hip hop vibes and is well produced all round.

Track Six – Summer 127

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This song starts off with an interesting set of chords, crafting an uplifting tune that already makes this track seem feel good and upbeat from its first few seconds. The music then starts to build before transitioning into a fast paced, summery beat reminiscent of various pop tracks. Jaehyun’s strong vocals complement the beat, beginning the first chorus in an enthralling way. From just the first thirty seconds, the track’s dance influence is clear, making it perfect for head bopping. Taeyong’s vocals are surprisingly stable for a rapper, and add nice contrast between his and Jaehyun’s vocal tone. Haechan and Doyoung chime in with their strong vocals too, before the song transitions into the pre-chorus, where it slows down slightly. This creates more fluidity as the transition into the chorus’s almost beat drop-like musical breakdown is more anticipated and enjoyable.

With the beginning line ‘I just wanna dance with you’, the chorus lives up to expectations set by such a poppy track and is perfect for dancing. There’s interesting synth work underlying the boy’s vocals, which makes the song encompass the very feeling of summer and express it through its music. The song itself continues in this way until it meets a rap break after the second verse. The beat becomes very pulsating during this break, Taeyong and Mark’s raps following with it technically and giving them a chance to show off their rap skills. By the end of this track I was itching to repeat it, making it my favourite song from this album, overall.


 

LeeTaeyongsWife

NCT Enthusiast – Drama Addict – Music Critic.

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