Block B’s ‘Welcome to the BLOCK’

14 Mar

Last month saw a very emotional ride for the young Korean boy group, Block B. They released their second mini-album and also stirred up some controversy in Thailand. The issue in Thailand is something I am willing to put aside; yes they were rude and lacked discipline but this does not effect their musical talents or the opinions on their new album. In the Thailand interview, they were being themselves –  fun, young trols – and their character is carried through in both their albums. Their début album last summer, ‘New Kids on the Block‘, was viewed as fun and fresh; a full reflection of Block B. It was a perfect soundtrack for the Summer, filled with upbeat tunes, complex compositions and a fierce, youthful image – it was refreshing. Many netizens labelled the group as the next BigBang due to their playfulness in image, character and music.

Not even a year has passed since their breakthrough and Block B have already released a new mini-album. It is both impressive and worrying that it has been pulled about so quick after their début. One would expect the boys would need more time to experience the music industry fully so that they could grow into superstar idols. It does make one wonder about the confidence levels, but then again they are young and have to make mistakes (such as those seen in Thailand) in order to improve.

However, their new album is indeed impressive considering and has been received well. They have not tried to recreate their first album but instead tried to develop it; an attempt at maturing it. It is indeed a progression from the first in that it is less playful and more sophisticated. It is still very playful and fun, just not your perfect summer-time fun – it’s in a way darker. There is more confidence and fierceness that makes it a powerful collection. They have kept to the foundations of hip-hop but given their music a creative twist. There appear to be many layers to the compositions and much more diversity in vocals despite Zico still leading the way with his coarse raps.

Here is a little breakdown ‘Welcome to the BLOCK‘:

‘LOL‘ opens the album with a strong hip-hop sound that demands the listener’s attention. It is a track that echoes the previous album but it definitely sounds much more mature. ‘LOL‘ is one that reflects the group’s humorous personalties as it is a generally fun song with an infectious beat and repetitive melody.

The second is ‘NalinA‘; the track they released a music video for. This particular track makes the previous track look dull in comparison. It is by far the most playful and catchy tune on the album. It has a very youthful tone as it exudes confidence and ego. Once again there is a lot of repetitiveness both in the lyrics and the composition that makes it an infectious track – a technique these boys seem to rely heavily on.

They then step down from the power and adopt a more pop-like sound with a higher notes in the composition making it more harmonious. ‘Did it or Not?’ is still upbeat but much more laid-back making it a pleasant listen. The playful innocence is replaced with a sense of serious experiences. It is one about the breakdown of a relationship, thus the gentle composition and focus on melody over the signature rap is fitting. There are still the signature infectious beats and catchy tunes that keep it to Block B’s usual style, but there is a evident sign of progression, maturity even, in the boy’s character.

100% Synchronized‘ is similar to the above in that it is simple in composition and powerful in vocals as though they are taking hip-hop back to the basics. It is the least upbeat tune on the album but still enjoyable.

The previous two tracks are a lead up to the album’s final track, ‘Action‘. It is a very nostalgic track as even Zico states that it is an “old school sound”. We are taken back to the basic R&B/Hip-hop sound. It is very fun and catchy but complex. There is not the usual amount of electronic sounds; but much more traditional musical instruments such as brass and pianos that dominate the composition. This give Block B a huge boost on the maturity scale and definitely makes them stand out.

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