Interestingly enough, I’m writing my first article for this blog regarding one of my favourite groups’ first mini albums! Hi there, I go by the alias of MinSugasWife, and I’m happy to be a part of the OneHallyu blog. I hope you’ll enjoy reading my review of NCT 127’s first album.
Released on the 10th of July, NCT 127 make a shocking and definitely hot new debut with their first mini album, NCT #127. NCT 127 is a sub unit from the brand labelled Neo Culture Technology, who work under SM Entertainment. Another subunit from the group – NCT U – released two digital singles, The 7th Sense and Without You this year in early April, in order to gain hype and recognition in South Korea and globally. This album is the group’s first physical release and consists of the title track Fire Truck, and six other unique songs! Listen to the full album if you’d wish to while reading my review:
- Fire Truck
- Once Again
- Wake Up
- Another World
- Mad City
- Switch (ft. SR15B)
Total Runtime: 22:31
Recommended For: Listeners who enjoy a variety of genres of music, ranging from hip hop to retro pop and rap, but overall prefer to listen to upbeat and feel-good songs.
Not Recommended For: Listeners who enjoy slow, smooth ballads or music that’s generally light on the ears.
Track One/Title Track – Fire Truck
This eccentric and interesting title track begins with sirens blaring in the background, in order to symbolise the siren of a Fire Truck – serving as an innovative and intriguing beginning for this song. A cohesive and loud first line of ‘Getting lifted’ then assaults the listener’s ears, the initial bass kicking in, making the song an intense listen from the first few seconds. The song then transitions into rap, the group’s rapper Taeyong matching the dulled bass with his croaky yet smooth flow. As the track continues, you can’t help but raise your hands along with the catchy lyrics, the fusion genre of the song becoming evident as it grows closer to the chorus.
The first time I listened to this however, the bridge that follows threw me off completely. The unusual, high pitch of Haechan’s singing contrasts largely with the rapping and style of the music that could be heard previously, Taeil’s voice matching in pitch. This unique vocal style sounds out of place during one’s first listen of the song, but slowly grows on the listener, and serves as a good build up for the beat drop that follows. The drop results in sirens blaring in time to an addictive beat, leaving some listeners fulfilled while others question what could’ve been. It’s definitely a new and interesting listen that differs from many of the other genres Kpop artists seem to favour, and quite a daring choice for a title track.
Track Two – Once Again
This light-hearted and warm track starts with the vibrant repetition of the word ‘again’, signifying the amount of times listeners will replay this song. The ever iconic and almost trademark siren plays in the back for a short amount of time, followed by Jaehyun’s smooth and sweet vocals. The colourful and retro beat matches well with the heart warming lyrics of the verses, and the chorus of backing vocals that accompany the vocals can’t help but put a smile on the listener’s face.
The smooth transition into the bridge of the song welcomes Haechan and Yuta’s short duet, creating an uplifting atmosphere as the pop elements of the chorus start playing, accompanied by Taeil’s strong and cheerful voice. After the chorus Taeyong and Mark’s soft and poetic raps complement the summery retro vibes of the music, contrasting well with the previous sweet singing that occurred in the first verse, yet they still seem to fit in well with the song. This is definitely a track that results in reminiscent memories of sizzling summer days spent at the beach greeting the listener, and is a heart warming listen that you can’t help but dance along to.
Track Three – Wake Up
This track starts off quite heavy sounding, the futuristic beat beginning the song in a unique and interesting way. This is then accompanied by Taeyong and Jaehyun’s deep voices, which sing in a mixture of Korean and English. A sudden pulsing beat begins in the song, increasing it’s intensity marginally as the song begins to show characteristics of an EDM track. The use of synths is vital for this track, as they increase the energy of the music mirroring what a dance track that you’d hear when going clubbing in Ibiza would sound like.
The beat drop gets my adrenaline pumping and sends me to a state of euphoria, which is a slight reason why this song one of my favourites on the mini. This track will definitely satiate your EDM needs. Near the end of the song the vocals seem to fade into the music, the electronic beat at the forefront of your ears as the song reaches it’s climax. This track ends in a way that leaves the me feeling satisfied, and has me itching to press the replay button!
Track Four – Another World
This song is definitely one of the tracks from this mini album that will ‘take you to another world’. It starts off with an electric fast-paced beat, the futuristic sounding synths growing in volume. It then transitions into rapping, Jaehyun, Mark and Taeyong’s smooth flows showcasing their skills and expertise. The repetition of the imperative and impactful (yet not grammatically correct) statement ‘I don’t wanna feel nothing’ creates the hook of the song, growing in energy until it’s almost being shouted as the track progresses onto the chorus.
Then, oh my god. They break it down. The chord progression in the chorus is fantastic, the pluck synth creating a unique and almost sensual atmosphere for the song; making it perfect body rolling music. The rhythm drops and rises in intensity gracefully, with the help of triplet drums. This song lives up to expectations and is a unique but satisfying listen. You’ll definitely be ‘turning it up’ whenever this song comes on your stereo.
Track Five – Paradise
This song starts off in a really pretty way. The light tone of the melody in the beginning of the song is soft and pleasing to the ear, and Jaehyun’s honey-like vocals complement it well. I love the use of layering and how there’s a slight echo after each line, as I think it goes really well with the resounding clicking of someone’s fingers which poses as a foundation for the beat. The guitar is so soft and appealing to the ears, making this song a heart-warming listen from the start.
A choir of ‘ooh’s builds up to the chorus along with the increasing vocal power and synths. The rhythm of this song is made with the repetition of ‘hey’s in the background of the chorus, and all in all this song is so relaxing. It’s not too heavy on the ears or intense of a listen, but isn’t slow either; it’s the perfect balance. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this song to those who don’t want to listen to loud, upbeat songs.
Track Six – Mad City
This song begins with a seemingly trap-esque beat, showcasing some of SM’s finest westernised music. As NCT 127 belongs to the brand ‘NCT’ which is ultimately trying to achieve global recognition, this was to be expected. The melody of the song is reminiscent of a Chris Brown hit, in my humblest opinion, and this is definitely a track that stands out on the album for many fans.
Taeyong’s muffled and slightly auto-tuned line of ‘you make me so mad’ begins the song, Jaehyun’s strong and once again tweaked voice singing the first few lines of the verse that follows. Mark then showcases both his rapping and bilingual skills as he smoothly raps in English, making this by far the most westernised song on the album. For his age, his style and flow is exceptionally polished and smooth, making the rap pleasurable to listen to. Taeyong’s rap then kicks in, having a much more fierce style in comparison to Mark’s rapping, increasing the song’s intensity. This song is recommended for listeners who enjoy rap and hip hop, and goes in hard.
Track Seven – Switch
This song was the most anticipated by fans who had followed the group before and up to their debut, and with good reason. During rookie days, NCT performed Switch on many occasions, and gained hearts with the upbeat song. Switch is a vibrant, refreshing and absolutely feel-good track.
The beautiful and exotic beat made with the use of soft drums and the xylophone is addictive and a unique and revitalising change from many other songs in the industry currently. Doyoung’s high pitched vocals are loud and distinguishable over the music, which serves as a calm backing track, blending in well with his strong voice. The chorus is smooth and pleasing to the ears, and the song as a whole is full of happiness. Listeners who love summery vibes and music perfect for beach parties will enjoy this track.
NCT 127, one of SM Entertainment’s highly anticipated groups has finally officially debuted with this album, and in my opinion this mini was indeed a very strong foundation for what I hope will be the beginnings of a great career for them! Nothing about this album was boring or cliché and each song was attractive and intriguing to listen to.
I lost track of time when listening to this album and felt my hand subconsciously guiding my mouse back to the replay button.
All songs individually stand out due to their unique sounds but work together amazingly.
NCT 127 showcased their unique, original and intuitive music style with this daunting, risky but overall impressive album.