Fans of Big Bang have the rare luxury of growing up with their favorite boy band and their ever-evolving music. Though their sound may come off as inconsistent at times occasionally straying from Teddy's hand in production with experiments in different genres and producers, I can't imagine their brand of music being released by any other group. They prove this more than ever with 'Alive'.
The intro track of the EP, 'Alive', serves as a brief album opener for the album, and a lighthearted ode to their comeback. With rhythmic ramblings reminiscent of the Bee Gees' with a disco-electro beat, Big Bang celebrates their long awaited return, and perhaps their survival through the scandals and allegations last year.
Big Bang owes much of their success to their thorough understanding of the K-Pop field. With a headstrong blitz of non-stop single releases, they ease back into the game with the wistful promotional single, "Blue." Lyrically and sonically, the song seems to be a continuation of their previous single, "Love Song", where they first dabbled in acoustic rock/pop heartbreak. "Blue"s undemanding sound manages to cater to those who yearned for the boys' return as well as pleasing the critical K-Pop listener.
While Big Bang sings the blues for the first chunk of their EP, they take us back to their humble beginnings with the second single, "Bad Boy," a confessional '90s urban jam pleading for their love interest's acceptance. Guided by trenchant strings and narcissistic street percussions, the bad boys are just too cool to not forgive. Come to think of it, this blend of openness and cockiness is what we all find charming about the band, and "Bad Boy" is the perfect reminder. As far as production is concerned, this track is notably the best sounding track off the album. The composition is lively, yet appropriate to the song, and all the sounds are perfectly audible and balanced.
A Big Bang release wouldn't be complete , however, without a signature dance party jam befitting to their name. "Fantastic Baby" unleashes the wild side of Big Bang that some of us were too hesitant to see before listening to their first two singles. Hook heavy from the silly "Boom Shaka Laka" chanting to standard Vengeance FX loops, the bass shuffling, floor-filler serves its purpose as the track to propel Big Bang back to the Korean TV and radio broadcasts. Though "Fantastic Baby" doesn't divulge itself into cutting edge electronic production or clever songwriting, it allows Big Bang to satiate the tastes of all their fans.
Although the 'Alive' mini album is marketed as a record with 6 separate singles of the total 7 tracks, we're still treated with the obvious fillers. Yes, it's true every album has its fillers, but the letdown stems from how they're all proclaimed to be "title tracks" (in K-Pop terms, "lead singles").
Another concerning factor I found in 'Alive' is their lack of voice pertaining to their recent events. I find their "Blue" theme and the inclusion of a Daesung solo at the end of the record suggestive to their feelings towards their recent scandals, but lyrically they evade the subject matters. There was potential in their intro track, 'Alive', but before making a statement, the track cuts off at 47 seconds.
Not to say they are obligated to regurgitate all their thoughts and feelings in song, but as Tablo elegantly exemplified with his album 'Fever's End', there are tasteful and subtle ways to revisit those hardship-filled events. From this realization, we're left to wonder, had their recent trials and tribulations not occurred, exactly how much of 'Alive' would actually be affected? Would it sound more or less the same? Then we ask, if they weren't ready to completely break their silence on the recent events, should they have perhaps waited longer to release a mini album?
Despite of said kept silence, Big Bang releases another exemplary K-Pop album, exceeding the requirements set by most of their peers. Their close involvement with their album, most notably G-Dragon's, radiates from all stems of 'Alive's production. Although it seems "Fantastic Baby" will be hauling their success for this project, the distant cry of "Blue" continues to echo within our brains. "Blue" measures Big Bang's growth since their debut, distancing them from their former selves. It also distances them from other K-Pop boy bands. Actually, it distances them from everyone in K-Pop.