How have we not heard more about NCT 127?
NCT 127 released their second mini album on the 6th of this month, and while there is heavy debate in the K-Pop world about whether the album is a success or not, I decided to listen to “Limitless” without any prior knowledge on the band.
Here’s my take on their newest album:
In its entirety, the album is reminiscent of classic K-Hip-Hop such as 1TYM combined with newer Pop group sounds like EXO and BTS. This album has a lot of short beginnings and ends but that doesn’t stop you from feeling that it comes together as a whole, especially with the first and last song complimenting each other by rounding off the rather muddled middle songs. This is a very clever tactic from a production standpoint, as we are scientifically (known as the “serial position effect”) more inclined to remember most vividly what we experience first and last.
Let’s dive into the individual tracks!
1. Limitless starts us off with dry percussion and a juicy combination of dirty synth and R&B pop vocals. The vocals are clean and clear, staying strong without overpowering our senses. The voices are well balanced with the grungy mix (filled with enticing up and down zipper effects) and they lead us into a bass-less bridge without a rap break, but instead an almost melancholic string of vocals before crashing us back into the undeniably enthralling hook and finishing us off with the “bite-your-lip” head swaying synth.
2. Good Thing surprises us by starting off with a strong jazzy horn and snapping sounds paired with a dissonant overlay on smooth vocals. The chorus is fast, and a little weak in comparison to its predecessor but it keeps your feet tapping with a bouncier plethora of catchy dubbing and effects. Its downfall is repetitiveness, but the pro to that con is its innate “easy listening” vibe. The synth stays consistent to provide album fluidity.
3. Back 2 U (AM01_27) has a foley (sound effects such as telephone ringing) intro with soft piano accompaniment flowing into soft vocals with a murky, underwater echo. The soft vocals bleed into a classic R&B rap. The vocals get stronger as the song goes on, with the varied clear falsetto. The high tone hook is extremely repetitive, but it is followed by an even stronger, faster rap before promptly leading to an abrupt finish. The vocals throughout are panned (audibly focused) to the right to keep emphasis on the distinctiveness of them versus the instrumental.
4. Heartbreaker starts with an “in your face” Pop Synth sound with distorted vocal dubbing over melodic one-tone (mainly high tone to falsetto) vocals. The instrumental is far busier and messier than the last few songs and the beat’s climb to the chorus is less impactful than the production teases you into believing, but the smooth vocals keep you pulled in just enough to not think of skipping it.
5. Baby Don’t Like It has a haunting instrumental with purposefully choppy singing-rap that blends into a deeper rap before falling into mid-range vocals and back into a very strong, very unique rough rapping that keeps your head bobbing. There’s plenty of fun “whoop-whoop” noises and almost child’s toy sounds that mix in with beautifully clear vocals before running back into mid-vocals and a sharp, but fun ending. I don’t know about you guys, but baby actually does like it. (Aha.)
6. Angel is undeniably cute, with its lovely acoustic intro and tender vocals before a sweet, nearly reggae-esque, lethargic rap. The sparkling, bright “morning star” vocals flow us into more cheery rapping. While the song has a definite younger audience appeal, it doesn’t have any trouble bridging age gaps to make your cheeks a little warm and inspire you to sing along. It has one of the most distinctive bridges on the album in comparison to the other tracks that primarily have a noticeable lack thereof. The prominent tambourine along with the subtle backing vocals throughout the song wind off with an easy finish, leaving the album with a satisfactory impression.
One thing is for sure: NCT 127 might be conflicting on the minds of netizens, but they are undoubtedly versatile and I, for one, am pretty excited to see where that versatility takes them.
Watch “Limitless” #1 and #2 below:
Let us know what you think of their new album!