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[Album Review] f(x) 'Pink Tape'

By contagion   Wednesday, August 7, 2013   45,447   446   0



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A couple of weeks back, a preview clip of f(x) dancing to "Cash Me Out" by Zara Larsson was released, leading many to believe that SM Entertainment had yet again bought a song from a musician in the West. However, as the original 'Go f(x)!' clips featuring "Cash Me Out" were taken down and the song didn't make an appearance on the album, many were surprised to hear something completely different. 

Listen to the full version of the song here.

"Rum Pum Pum Pum" (Dsign Music) has the perfect balance of weird and radio-friendly that we want from f(x). The song makes a clever metaphor comparing a first love to a first wisdom tooth that pushes all the other teeth aside and leaves a permanent hole when removed. It's pretty cool and weird hearing the girls singing from the perspective of the wisdom tooth as well. Rather than maintaining a constant drum line through the song, the percussion changes constantly throughout- from marching-band drums to a more typical drum kit loop, to stomps and claps, to some kind of hand drum. It's the muted guitar line that holds the song together and keeps an underlying tone of building tension throughout the song, punctuated with occasional subtle, breathy gasps. 

At around 0:45 seconds, the girls begin singing a vocal round, one of the first (if not the first) instances of a round in a K-Pop song. The song makes use of a mix of two- and three-part harmonies alongside segments sung entirely in unison, as well as layered parts, all of which blend seamlessly into a song that's difficult to categorize as one thing or another. The song doesn't scatter quite as widely as "I Got a Boy" and isn't as theatrical as EXO's "Wolf" (both of which also come from Dsign)- both of those songs were created with a certain amount of "shock factor" in mind. "Rum Pum Pum Pum" isn't shocking, but rather gives f(x) a strange new sound that it's doubtful any other current K-Pop groups could pull off.

"Shadow" (Rob Fusar, Cathy Dennis, Sophie Ellis-Bextor), the song from f(x)'s art film teaser, is a creepy song about a girl stalking someone and calling it a "date", warning the person "Don't be scared, we're a fate tied by the sun, it's our destiny to be together." This is all tied together with eerily cute xylophones and distorted, cartoonish singing the the background. The calm vocal delivery over a sanitary disco instrumental only further's the track's sinister tones, ultimately giving us one of K-Pop's most unexpectedly frightening songs. "Pretty Girl" (Misfit, Hyuk Shin) continues the creepiness, with f(x) chanting and wailing about pretty girls with boring, similar faces, claiming "On a dark night I cast a spell, my green-light spell makes everyone have the same face," and questions the pretty girl "Did you think it'd last forever? You were always the main character, but now it's different." EXO's "Baby Don't Cry" was an homage to Hans Christian's Anderson's "The Little Mermaid"- perhaps "Pretty Girl" is f(x)'s tribute to Wicked. While "Pretty Girl" is weightier than "Shadow", it also uses childish xylophones to really hammer home the ominous tone. 

Retro, doo-woppy "No More" (The Grace's Dana and several of SM's in-house producers) borrows the xylophones from "Pretty Girl" and "Shadow" to add a sugary coating to f(x)'s sharp words as they call out a gijibe who changes her whole personality to fit with whomever she's dating at the time, and who only cares about her friends when she's single. "Snapshot" also takes the retro route with vaudeville inspiration. It also uses a similar sarcastic tone, this time taking aim at the paparazzi and the public's demand for perfection from stars, even in candid shots.

"Kick" (Kim Bu Min, Hitchhiker) is an abstract ode to skateboarding, featuring a bizarre electronic samba beat spliced together with bursts of chiptune, a heavy dose of talk-rapping, punctuated with unexpectedly spacey prechoruses and an organized synth malfunction of a breakdown. "Toy" (Dsign music) has a similar samba beat, but with a more conventional instrumental and frantic feel- at least, until the dubstep break. Regular readers of my reviews will know how little patience I have left for the K-Pop dubstep break, but this is once case where it's actually done in an interesting way. The breaks are established earlier in the song- such as the abrupt cut to Amber's "I'm transformin' now" line- and the weird, glitchy dubstep is run under a string line that keeps things from getting boring.

"Goodbye Summer" is one of the most fan-anticipated songs of the album, as it was written and composed by f(x)'s Amber and Gen Neo of Henry's production team, Noize Bank. This song is just the Amber/Luna/Krystal subunit that brought us 'Electric Shock''s "Beautiful Stranger", and is a very simple, acoustic love song showcasing a lot of very pretty harmonies between Luna and guest vocalist D.O of EXO-K. "Signal" (Kenzie) is another song with a more conventional sound, going with a straightforward disco vibe. Both songs serve as nice palette cleansers between the more complicated songs on the album. "Ending Page" (Hong Ji Yoo, Fingazz, Glen Choi, Brodie Stewart) closes the album with a straightforward pop-rock ballad about the loneliness and doubt felt in the wake of a breakup.

Airplane (Misfit, Tim McEwan, Julia Fabin, Martin Mulholland) is a jewel nestled in the middle of the album. It's somewhat reminicent of SM the Performance's cover of Zedd's "Spectrum" in parts, borrowing inspiration from "Spectrum"'s open, spacey instrumental and the upward slide into the drop. However, "Airplane" is far brighter and more melodic, achieving a level of heart and humanity that "Spectrum" didn't.  This is probably the best Sulli's ever sounded, as her verses perfectly suit her high, sweet voice. This song takes advantage of the wide range f(x) has, from Sulli and Krystal's high notes to Amber's much lower voice- something we don't hear often from girl groups in K-Pop.

f(x) is a group that dares to be the pistachio flavored ice cream in a freezer full of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They're weird, they're not for everyone, but they're not trying to be for everyone. People who like 'Pink Tape' are the people who are hungry for something new and different in the sea of been-there-done-that that K-Pop can start to feel like after a while. f(x) has enough of a foot in the mainstream to merit bringing big-name songwriters and producers into the mix, but they're just off-the-wall enough to earn themselves as much hipster credibility as an idol group can have. It's taken some work to find the exact mix that works for f(x), but all that work is paying off, as 'Pink Tape' is easily one of the best idol albums released so far this year.

  1. f(x)
  2. pink tape
  3. Rum Pum Pum Pum
  4. sm entertainment

ryane117 Saturday, September 17, 2016

This album getting less than a 9.5 really shows that this review was a huge mistake. I think almost everyone in the kpop community recognizes that this is probably one of the best kpop albums ever.

larissanasciment Saturday, December 14, 2013

For me it's the best album of the year. I really love F (x) and after this album I love more ! ;

weiduo Tuesday, November 12, 2013

'Pink Tape' is still by far the best album out of kpop this year~

SamKang Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Okkay, first.

The concept is really great. Awesome, and its a surprice that it came from SM. Usually SM use that title song as thetitle of the album.

RumPumPum, Shadow, Goodbye Summer, of course i like all of them.

But then, I really love Irplane, Signal, No More, Snapshot, and Step.

And I like this article's writer.

I'm so glad that he/she is such an open minded, and open hearted person, so he welcome all kind of song and see from other perspectif.

Great job !


And f(x)!!!

yemiva Sunday, August 11, 2013

Love Pink Tape. It's full of amazing songs. I still get goosebumps every time I hear Sulli's part in Airplane. It made the song so mystical and lovely. ;

chilo Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rum pum pum pum and Goodbye Summer are my favorites :D

Other songs seem a little bit weird to me but im sure none of other kpop artists can ever pull off their songs as incredible as they are x)

anw, f(x) fighting !!!

Fr3akyCo0kie Friday, August 9, 2013

love pretty girl and shadow..and isn't shadow about a shadow in love with it's owner? i'm guessing allkpop didn't go through the whole song and just listened to the first minute of it...

gummybear_dragon Tuesday, July 7, 2015

it's actually up to your own perception. Sure if you're basic and take everything literally you'd say that it's about a shadow who's in love with it's owner. But if you'e a little more ceative you'd say that it's actually about a girl who's stalking her crush so much to the point where she seems to be his shadow. Most reviews I've seen of this song have always described it as that, so AKP did their research.

triniblossom Thursday, August 8, 2013

I am in love with Shadow!

heartless_a Thursday, August 8, 2013

Favourite album of the year for me! If anything's going to top Pink Tape, it'll have to be mind blowing! xD This album was definitely worth the wait! Words can't express how happy I am about their comeback. ;

f(x) everybody, feeding your indie kpop feels since 2009~ ;

conankun92 Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's difficult to put a score to this album. It's brilliant beyond belief I think. One of the best albums to come out this year without a doubt. If end-of-the-year awards were given based on meritocracy, this is on top at the moment. Just listen to the depth and variety of songs on offer, really. This album just flows with each song and it's not as if its random songs put together. This is a proper well-thought album and we have to acknowledge that. ;

weiduo Friday, August 9, 2013

Well said and totally agree with you!

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