N.FLYING – HOW ARE YOU
1. HOW R U TODAY
2. UP ALL NIGHT
5. Fall With You
N.Flying has just dropped their 4th mini-album 'How Are You?' Their stylized intersection of rap and rock earned them a spot on my radar back in 2015, and I've stood by them since then. Their energy was what kept me intrigued, and now we have some new material for the first time in months.
"HOW R U TODAY" is, unfortunately, not that good. It takes a bit for it to gain some proper momentum, about a minute and a half. It's very different from their previous work and makes them sound like a generic boy band. Yes, there are a few nods to their old sound, but it's not enough. Seunghyub's scratchy voice is replaced by the oohs and ahhs of the other members. It's too bland for my taste. "UP ALL NIGHT" is a little more my style, with crunchy guitars but it still lacks much of the signature sound that piqued my interest in the first place. It's got more guitars and a louder chorus, but again it suffers from the genericity of the first track.
"Lovefool" is probably the most upbeat and playful tune we've hard so far, with acoustic guitars and claps to fill out the percussion. It reminded me more of DAY6 than N.Flying, with all the baggage that comes with that. "ANYWAY" retains that jaunty, upbeat tone that we've heard with the rest of the tunes, where the raps are confined to a short one-line section and the boys harmonize on the chorus. I like some of the guitars, particularly the distortion in the intro and chorus. It's a fun, danceable tune. There's an earnestness that surrounds "Fall With You." The raps are rapid-fire, the vocals reach those highs just like the other tracks on here, and the tempo is fast. It's a perfect summer tune, and not a moment too soon.
What stands out to me here, other than the shift in tone, is the packed choruses. They reach those heights which remind me a lot of B.A.P with the vocal fireworks. Some of the tunes are quite good rockers and are worth a listen. But with this release, they kind of abandoned their identity, like somebody said 'we're going to make them sound like other bands.' It's not that the songs are bad -- far from it, but it's not really N.Flying anymore. They've been heading in this direction slowly for the past 2 years, drifting away from their signature sound bit by bit. It might make them easier to stan, and gain them a larger following, but at what price?
The MV has the boys in a couple different locations, such as jamming some kind of garage/warehouse structure, out on the cliffs over the sea, and in the bleachers at a field for some kind of sporting event. There are some fairly dynamic shots at play here, but it also looks really familiar.
The boy-in-a-box scenes remind me a lot of DAY6 and FTIsland, and the ocean scenes are common, and I know we've seen the playing field before, and the colored smoke has been in use since at least Big Bang's 'MADE' (the MV for "Sober," to be precise). It's almost like they didn't have an idea, so they just kind of grabbed whatever tropes they could and stuck them into a music video.
Other than the crushing amount of deja vu, it's not like it wasn't watchable, and the pink sky over the water is worth its weight in gold. Some of the ways this was put together give you some pretty uplifting vibes, not to mention some of those boy-in-the-box scenes are iconic. They don't get any points for originality, but it was a fun watch.
MV SCORE: 7.6
ALBUM SCORE: 7.0