NCT 127 – 'NCT #127 CHERRY BOMB'
1. Cherry Bomb
2. Running 2 U
3. 0 Mile
4. Sun & Moon
6. Summer 127
7. Cherry Bomb (Performance Ver.)
NCT 127, whose last mini album 'NCT #127 Limitless' swept music charts worldwide, including those in Finland, Norway, and Peru, have returned. This time they've unveiled 'Cherry Bomb,' their 3rd mini-album and Mark and Tae Yong penned the lyrics for the title track.
We start with the title track, "Cherry Bomb," deemed unfit for broadcast by KBS. Sadly for them, that just makes me want to listen to it more. It's loud, it's dumb, and it has an easy hook. It should be good, but the chorus is too simplistic for me, and it doesn't flow well enough. And the line "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands" really reminds me of this guy:
If I was less than impressed with "Cherry Bomb," then "Running 2 U" made up for it. I like the beat drops during the hip hop parts, and the synth is actually pretty awesome. Not only that, but it carries from the bridge into the main verses. I also like the way the chorus has a suspenseful feel, setting it perfectly up for that synth riff. It's not as meaty a hook as the first track, but this has some nice production thrown at it.
"0 Mile" is the most formulaic track yet, but ironically, I think that's the strength of it. It has lush synth washes, and the boys harmonize well here. And it's got that insistent guitar that really gets your head nodding and your feet moving. It's low-key for all that, but the arrangements are just what the doctor ordered, with sick raps that are all too brief and leave you wanting more.
I liked "Sun & Moon" a lot more than I thought. Not the biggest fan of ballads, this song is elevated from that overdone art form by some of the echo effects in the song. I like how the song gets a little busier as it goes on. One of the things that I really like is that the vocals almost sound lonely, especially during the main verses. Another thing I like is that it never really strays too far. There aren't any jarring dubstep clips in here, and it ends as quietly as it began.
"Whiplash" is a mid-tempo tune. It's quiet, but it still rocks. There's a pseudo-R&B feel to it, but it's still very much its own tune. This particular song has a lot of rapping in here and I think that makes it so much better. The more traditional song structures really are introduced as a break, and everything comes together at the end. This tune is lit.
"Summer 127" starts out exciting, and doesn't really let up. It maintains that rapid-fire beat throughout, and the boys have these unique harmonies that are led by falsetto and some scratchy voices. The nice thing is you can tell it's them -- it's not buried in overdubs and over-production. And that's only part of its charm. This one stands as a pretty awesome club-banger.
"Cherry Bomb (Performance Ver.)" almost sounds like the original version of the tune, and the one at the top of the disc is the version with everything stripped out. There are a number of improvements to this one, like more bass and a dance break, even if it still has that "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands" line. In some ways, I like this one better. It's meatier and it sounds more like the rest of the songs on this album.
I've raved about EDM production in K-pop before, and the producers appear to have taken it to heart. These guys have embraced it and made it work for them. If you can have interesting chords and unique arrangements, that's going to make you stand out. And for the most part, that's what we have. Not too experimental to be outre, but still hewing to some of the familiar rhythms and forms. 'Cherry Bomb' is slightly uneven, but still pretty damn good.
Remember me waxing poetic and wistful about the days when crazy costumes and crazy hairstyles were the norm? It appears NCT 127 wants to scratch that itch. Except the hairstyles aren't as interesting as last time round.
The clothes look like floral arrangements. I'm not sure what exact effect the designer was going for, but the clothes are loud and proud. Proud if you like flowers, that is. I'm not sure that's what they intended to convey, but it's out there anyway. I'm also not sure that I like the apparel, frankly. It's a small part of their wardrobe, though, since they go through at least two costume changes.
The MV appears to be the performance version of "Cherry Bomb," ostensibly because of the dance break. And the dancing is quite good and uses the boys' talents well. It's not the most technically perfect, nor is it the most perfectly synced, but it is vigorous and awesome looking. Incorporating hip-hop gestures into the mix was a great idea, and just makes it look better.
There's all sorts of little things going on here, like a motocross bike and an ATV, along with fun animations, including one where they hit the screen and crack it. At the end of the day, it's still boys in boxes, but they made it so interesting that you won't care.
MV SCORE: 8.3
ALBUM SCORE: 8