JBJ95 – 'AWAKE'
1. FRIEND ZONE
2. AWAKE *Title
3. WHO I AM (Prod. Flow Blow)
4. MILKY WAY
5. LEAVE IT TO ME
6. LOOKIN’ 4 LOVE
JBJ95 have just dropped their newest EP, 'AWAKE.' This one has 6 songs, including the title track, also titled "AWAKE." For those not in the know, the band consists of former JBJ members Takada Kenta and Kim Sang Kyun, who re-debuted last year. This is their second mini-album as a duo.
"FRIEND ZONE" is the track fronting this album, and it's kind of a more playful tune, a little quieter than you might expect. It sort of has a faux-reggae beat, and I like the emotional pre-chorus particularly. It's got this cheerful upbeat tone that makes it quite refreshing. Their title track is "AWAKE." It's mostly an upbeat tune, and that's it's main strength. The rapping on this one is a bit better, though the second rap lost the beat, and that was not sick, just jarring. But the song overall is light and poppy and guaranteed to chase those winter blues away.
"WHO I AM" is another playful one. It actually starts with rapping. They hooked up again with collaborator Flow Blow (Pentagon, Wanna One, Monsta X) to give us probably one of the better tunes on here. I like the raw nature of this particular song a lot. "MILKY WAY" is soft R&B. While the sound isn't particularly groundbreaking, it is quite smooth and easy on the ears. I like the beats, and the chorus fits quite well with the rest of the song. When these two combine their voices the results are magic.
"LEAVE IT TO ME" is done to an acoustic guitar and snaps. When it fills out, it becomes a fairly funky R&B number. They do the same kind of silky harmonies you heard on "MILKY WAY." This duo definitely knows how to sing. The final track, "LOOKIN' FOR LOVE," slows things way down. This is more of a mellow tune. It's still solid R&B, but raps make their appearance here after a notable absence. This time, they do it better, and the segment's not as disconnected as some of the other ones were. Overall, a very smooth finish.
I wasn't a fan of the rapping on most of this album. It seemed like it was almost tacked on, and didn't feel organic at all. I like the raps to be well-integrated with the rest of the album, and they opted for a different take, where the rap was almost a different song entirely. Fortunately, they redeemed themselves on the second half of the EP. If you're looking for an upbeat pop/R&B offering, you need to look no further. This is your panacea to chase away the winter blues.
Watch the JBJ95 duo in their new "AWAKE" MV.
This is another MV that straddles the line between awesome and insanely low budget. And the worst part is they keep switching back and forth between the two. So in the beginning, we get a CGI sequence where the gold is blown away from the band's logo. And then we see the pair in a decidedly minimalist, painfully Euclidean, boy in the box set. And that's where the problems just begin.
I have to give props where they're due. The CGI is awesome, and a whole lot of fun. It keeps me from giving this one an unreserved thumbs down. We have Sang Kyun stirring Kenta's image into a cup of coffee, panning back into "the box" with moving alien foliage, animated graphics with shapes that align well with the basic geometry of the sets, and exploding shapes that explode into smaller shapes of the same type. It's a dynamic experience.
The dancing is where it falls down again. But I have a feeling that they placed a lot less emphasis on the choreo since it doesn't appear that often, and looks very off-the-cuff and casual. But the fact that it's laid back doesn't save it -- on the contrary, the results are lackluster.
I think they were relying on the CGI to prop up this MV. But does it do the job? Well, if either of these two is your bias, you're in for a treat, and any chance to see them will probably make you happy. But if you're not a particular fan, then I'm not sure this will be your cup of tea at all.
MV SCORE: 8.0
ALBUM SCORE: 8.0