The former MBLAQ member may have been away from the scene for some time but it hasn't stopped him from creating the music he loves! Making a recent comeback with his first solo release "Sign" off the album 'Thunder,' Thunder tests the waters that is music with his own distinct style. But is it enough to win over old and new fans alike?
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While the MV was charming and had a fun concept, I wasn't wowed by "Sign" one bit. The lively jack-swing influenced, heavy guitar-strumming dance track may be better suited for other artists, but it isn't a song that offers much range for Thunder to win over a large crowd. Check out the song below.
I like hearing the sultry, vaguely autotuned "Ooh, so delicious" in the backtrack, but the rest of the autotuned used on Thunder's voice (specifically in the beginning) is so disgustingly cringeworthy. Thunder, you are not and never will be an "original badboy."
That aside, I do like the storyline of following three key steps in winning over someone you are flirting with. Every time Thunder is shot in the head, it restarts the scene, which is symbolism for the cliches "try, try again" and "third time's the charm."
The MV is aesthetically pleasing in more ways than one. The vibrant, hot pink and dark red colors and sets really help the MV pop. The subtle symbolism and signs, as mentioned before, regarding how to execute the perfect romance are eye catching and enhance the plot nicely. However, the fashion is by far the best thing going for Thunder's solo release. Everyone in this MV, including Thunder, seemed to be donning that classic, overly decorated K-Pop flair we have grown to love over the years, and it still looks refreshing rather than over done.
The dancing is rather simplistic and doesn't consist of any wow factors. Thunder does incorporate some fancy footwork and suave dance styles and utilizes his female backup dancers' sexy bodies quite well, but it just gives off a been-there-done-that, Trouble Maker sort of vibe instead of anything original.
Like most aspects of this song, "Sign" doesn't offer anything refreshing lyrically either. Once again, it is another pop-swing track that personifies the beauty of a woman and pinpoints her coy nature with lyrics like "Your lips are delicious, The more you move, they look delicious," and "The more difficult the problem is, the more I'm attracted to it. Oh, Girl your mind changes every single day." I was hoping for a little more substance rather than these repetitive lyrics.
Hara's vocal additions blend nicely with the song, but didn't necessarily help it stand out. I really would've liked to have seen Hara in the MV, but I will settle with the cute brother/sister bond of Dara's cute appearance towards the end.
The album does get better as it opens up with the smooth, hypnotic rhythm of "Look At Me." The song has a real nice R&B vibe with a solid instrumental, mid-tempo guitar strumming and plenty of ad-libs that leaves a suave yet energetic feeling within the listener's soul.
While "Sign" offers a bit more energy than this song, the album has a great start with "Look At Me." It sounds more professional and serious, and the rap featuring Basic is another great addition to this amazing ear candy. Yet another missed opportunity turned into a side track.
After "Look At Me" and "Sign," the album keeps the party in our ears going with "Good." Carrying the same rhythm and jazzy, jack-swing fusion like in "Sign," "Good" is another uplifting, dance track with a lot of pep and a playful instrumental to match.
It could be my personal taste, but this is another song that appears to be lacking anything insanely unique or interesting. It seems more like a filler that can easily be skipped over rather than a solid addition to the album. Thunder has a great voice and it is better appreciated in ballads and R&B tracks than alongside these sporadic beats. The repetition of the English bridge "All around town, people trying to get down" will tire you out real fast.
As previously stated, Thunder's skills shine in a nice ballad - and he provided us just that with the track "Magic Spell." Slow, steady and sweet, the calming track is like a lullaby with his more gentle tone and lightly synthesized backtrack. Alongside an OST-like piano melody and steady drumming, the song is like warm honey on the ears with his long "do doo doo do" bridge and falsetto ad-libbing.
What is more enjoyable about this track is that it isn't necessarily a melancholic type of ballad but more uplifting due to the violin instrumental and happy lyrics - because his "Magic Spell" is happiness after all!
In the end, Thunder cleans up his act nicely and finally delivers a track that is as zany as "Sign" but still sounds well done. The odd, synthetic trumpet horns combined with some early disco influences makes "In Time" quirky and attention grabbing.
Once again, Thunder made an excellent choice in featuring rappers who completely complement his style. Giant Pink's rough and edgy vocals add the moxie this track needed. The only thing some people may dislike about this song is that Thunder's high notes during the refrain sound a bit strained, especially for a studio recording. While the song works its whimsical instrumental quite well, it is still a foreign style for Thunder.
Overall, Thunder's solo album 'Thunder' was nice but nothing worth raving about. He has the skills, without a doubt, but he still seemed to have missed his mark with this adventurous leap into different genres. I respect his efforts in trying something new and making it his own, but there is nothing wrong with playing it safe and doing what you do best. That is why the R&B tracks and ballads such as "Look At Me" and "Magic Spell" are the only tracks doing this album any justice and worth listening to.