SM Entertainment’s newest rookie boy group NCT 127 begin the year with an explosive and hopefully infinitely successful comeback promoting their new title track, ‘Limitless’. Through this comeback NCT express how their talent knows no bounds and cannot be contained or limited to one group or genre. This plays on the well known fact that Neo Culture Technology is a brand manufactured by SM to contain many sub groups and units all linked to NCT; and ultimately that the group has a limitless amount of members. Two members, Doyoung and Johnny were introduced to the previously acclaimed ‘fixed group’ NCT 127 as new members, exercising this very fact.
NCT 127 hope to start off a fruitful year for NCT with the release of their second mini album, consisting of 6 compelling and addictive tracks that vary in musical tone perfectly – adding to the unique nature of NCT 127! Listen to Limitless while reading my album review for a fulfilling experience.
- Good Thing
- Back 2 U
- Baby Don’t Like It
Total Runtime: 21:57
Recommended For: Listeners that like a variety of different genres, ranging from EDM, R&B to fusion hip-hop with pop elements.
Not Recommended For: Listeners who are lovers of ballads or people who enjoy music that lulls the ears with their light and airy melodies. However, the song ‘Angel’ on this mini album does fit this criteria.
Track One/Title Track – Limitless
At first glance, this title track seems limited to a 90’s grunge, tumblr aesthetic laced image that’s questionable for most listeners. Beginning with an intense, trap-esque beat, ‘Limitless’ starts off loud and impressionable. The grunge, almost grime sounding bass kicks in with overwhelming force at an instant, a hard-core drum beat accompanying it. Then we’re greeted with Taeyong, the main rapper’s vocals which contain a rich baritone as the first verse begins, followed by Mark. The dulled bass during the beginning of this verse is pulsing and mildly addictive, making the second half of the verse, containing a rap break, less of a shock. Taeyong’s unique and definitely not public friendly take on the famous antagonist of horror movie ‘The Grudge’s vocals adds a different, unique and interesting twist to this intense song. Unlike most raps it drones on in an almost hypnotising way, making the listener question how one’s voice can reach such levels of deep tone.
However, the change that follows Winwin’s lines is experimental and perfectly brings a new genre of hip hop, containing piano, into the song. The tempo of the song slows, Jaehyun’s strong vocals carrying the pre-chorus smoothly before building up the intensity that had been lost seconds before once again with Doyoung’s vocals. The tempo increases and the climax line ‘oh baby it’s you’ starts off the chorus and leads to a beautiful beat drop. Unlike most beat drops, the epic nature of the organ sounding synths adds to the strength of the song, and the vocals mix perfectly with the new melody. The song almost mirrors what one would hear going into battle, NCT 127’s voices blending together and harmonising in a way that makes one question how long this group have been together for. The latter half of the chorus sounds sinister and intimidating while containing futuristic elements, the perfect mix to create a song that leaves listeners speechless.
The way Jaehyun and Doyoung easily decrease the intensity of the song with their soft vocals after the second chorus creates diversity in the track that’s pleasurable to the ears. They break down the song, enabling the heavy chorus to sink into the listener’s bones with their light and contrasting tones. The song ends on a high, leaving most feeling like they were pushed to the limit and back after such an intense, adrenaline-rushing listen.
Track Two – Good Thing
I was anticipating this track ever since it’s preview was released by NCT featuring WXESTEEM. It’s definitely a good thing to listen to when in need of a track that exudes nothing but positive vibes. It starts off with a funky, electronically influenced beat – loud and deep bass also makes the song seem hip-hop. The brass incorporated in this track makes it easy to move your head along to the beat, and provides an interestingly upbeat, retro melody. Jaehyun’s vocals welcome the listener into the song, complementing the beat and emerging clicking resounding through the background of the song. Doyoung continues this verse, transitioning into Taeil’s loud, outstanding and well kept line where he states that he ‘wants to feel good’.
The chorus doesn’t fluctuate in intensity so is quite a heavy listen, and the song carries on swiftly with the same beat, but it works so well. The underlying bass is more evident when the choral ‘oh’s are repeated throughout the latter part of the chorus, and makes this line in particular hard not to sing along to. This track will make you ‘feel good’ every time you hear Taeil’s strong, gorgeous vocals.
Track Three – Back 2 U
This track stands out on the album at first listen due to it’s starkly RnB influenced beat. It’s a refreshingly different sound that we haven’t heard from NCT 127, and takes it’s place as one of my favourite tracks on the album. This song starts off with the ringing of a dial tone that’s quickly replaced by a mellow set of chords on a grand piano that seem to echo meaningfully. The RnB beat then kicks in, Doyoung’s melodious adlibs starting off the song in a slow yet engaging way. Mark’s meaningful English line of ‘I’m not going back’ contradicts the fact that I’ll most definitely be going back to this song and begins the first verse.
Jaehyun’s vocals are deep and impressionable, creating a slow beginning for the song. Haechan and Taeyong’s duet follows, pleasing the ears with the pairs complementing vocal tones. Taeyong’s low singing in shadowed by Haechan’s which is much higher in comparison, creating a harmony that carries the song well. The beat is very mellow, focussing most of the song on the strong vocals NCT 127 have. The chorus is the best part of this song for me, as it’s where the whole beat breaks down beautifully, and NCT come together to make gorgeous harmonies. This song is very reminiscent of early 2000’s RnB, which is something I definitely wasn’t expecting NCT to experiment with in this album. Therefore, it came as a surprisingly gorgeous track, and is an addicting listen.
Track Four – Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker is a track that surprised me the most when I first indulged in the art of blessing my ears with it’s melody. Compared to any of NCT’s previous work, it was a new, experimental and electronic song that I highly anticipated. It starts off very heavily influenced by technology, giving off a futuristic vibe from the first few seconds of the track. The inviting and unique beat continues, with background vocals appearing in order to create tension and swiftly carry us into the first verse. Haechan’s light, slightly falsetto vocal tone introduces us to the song, making hearts swell with anticipation rather than have them break. This smoothly transitions into Doyoung’s more deeper vocals, the song flowing nicely even with the eccentric and slightly quirky electronic beat it sits on.
The intensity of the track suddenly shoots up as Jaehyun sings the pre-chorus, the electronic beat doing double time. Taeil’s harmony chimes in, following Jaehyun and transitioning into the chorus. the beat effectively drops, a choral ‘heartbreaker’ resounding as all of NCT 127 come together. The unique and electronic beat comes into play more noticeably during the chorus compared to the verses, which focus more on the groups vocals. The chorus then ends on a sweet harmony from the entirety of the group that varies in pitch and transitions into Taeyong’s soft, deep singing – the intensity of the song once again fluctuating. As the song progresses the group’s vocal blending is very appealing and adds to the inventive, interesting and upbeat electric song that Heartbreaker prizes itself as.
Track Five – Baby Don’t Like It
Many can unanimously agree that one of this track’s fatal flaws is the fact that it’s over far too quickly. For a song that’s only 2:38 minutes long, it somehow leaves a long lasting impression of pure awe on listeners. This song is laced with underlying sexual tones, yet plays out uniquely and isn’t too risqué all the way through. It’s got the perfect balance of sensual “bump and grind” essence but doesn’t need to be censored – though the lyrics do push it. The track starts off with dulled down and mellow chords, a high pitched soothing voice – some could argue – moaning, and transitions into Mark’s rap. As one of the younger members of NCT 127 it’s surprising that he took the spotlight in the first verse on such a controversial track, but starts the song out on a high with how he delivers his first lines in English.
The bass kicks in at this point, adding a kick to Mark’s bars. His flow is very easily adapted and manipulated so that it goes perfectly with the beat of the track, yet stays unique and smooth. As one of SM’s most profound rappers, he adds a bit of hip-hop to this song. The vocal line then sing the short chorus, pleasing the ears with their sweet vocals, which then transitions into Taeyong’s… interesting rap. He starts off low, trailing off each of his lines so that they last longer. The fierceness in his flow escalates, his deep voice creating an edge to his words. With the addition of bed creaking noises to his already suggestive lyrics, the song ironically anti-climaxes into another short choral melody from the vocal line. Another short solo from our favourite creaky bed brings the song to completion, and leaves listeners satisfied.
Track Six – Angel
This track definitely lives up to it’s name and brings NCT 127’s second mini album to a beautiful finish. ‘Angel’ is a song that is simply angelic in every single way, and solidly cements it’s place at the top spot as my favourite track on this mini album and one of my favourite songs by NCT. It starts off with beautiful guitar chords, sounding reminiscent of what one would hear on an exotic beach getaway while relaxing under the sunset. The vocal adlibs that chime through the background and lead up to the first verse are heart warming, and Taeyong’s light rap in the first verse differs from his more aggressive style of rapping.
Complementing the guitar well, Taeyong sways hearts through calling listeners ‘angels’ and stating that they have to be his, and is followed up by Yuta’s sweet vocals. His soft voice finds it’s way into your heart easily and finally displays Yuta’s talents. The chorus then chimes in with Jaehyun and Doyoung’s gorgeous duet, their angelic vocals blending perfectly with one another to create a melody that’s light, airy and easy to lose yourself in. The soft piano in the background completes the song, and even as it transitions into Mark’s rap the sweet essence of the track isn’t lost. This track focusses more on the group’s vocals but the simple and pretty melody is heart fluttering, and makes this song an angelic listen that’ll transport you to heaven for a short period of time.
NCT 127 couldn’t have started the year off in a better way, and even weeks after the initial release this mini album is yet to be defeated in terms of how addictive and pleasing each track is personally! This mini album gives the public and fans a true insight on what NCT consists of and is capable of producing, which in terms of music is quite an exciting prospect. The tracks on this album range vastly in genres that they cover yet all entwine in harmony to portray Neo Culture Technology’s interesting character. This mini album emphasises how a limit has not been set for NCT and that they’re willing to go above and beyond fan’s expectations with each release! The amount of development the group have made not even a year into their debut is riveting, and leaves me anticipating what’s next!
This album features some tracks that are simply addictive and distinguishable, making it perfect for listening to for hours on end.
Each track is well produced and sticks to it’s genre, and all songs blend together well with not one seeming out of place.
This album showcases the originality of NCT and what they have to offer. They provide unique, different and experimental tracks that emphasise on NCT’s own style and make them easily recognisable in the world of Kpop.