With a previous discography that includes the sweet, bubble gum pop melodies of Touch as well as the dangerously catchy Fire Truck, it’s unsurprising that NCT 127’s second full album Neo Zone is filled with a myriad of sounds, styles and sensations.
The first track Elevator (127F) is an upbeat, bass-driven introduction to the album which suggests the album will be fun and bubbly. However, this is quickly undercut by the title track Kick It.
From the first few moments gritty electric guitar and the short snippets of harmonising that contrast with singing which borders on shouting, it’s clear that this is the 2020 version of Cherry Bomb. Though the songs don’t necessarily sound the same, they both have a similar unique style that you either love or you hate (and apparently lots of people love it as the music video has amassed 1.3 million likes on YouTube in the six days since its release).
The powerful, grungy atmosphere created by Kick It is then usurped by the relaxing vibe that Boom brings with its acoustic guitar, gospel organ and funky percussion motif in the chorus. The album continues like this, flip-flopping the listener with hardcore EDM driven songs like Sit Down!, contagious pop melodies such as Love Me Now, and relaxing tracks and ballads like White Night.
NCT 127’s array of talents are showcased perfectly in their full length albums. As their blessed with members who shine in different ways, NCT 127 are able to flawlessly execute any style they’re given. Mark and Taeyong are able to exercise their excellent rapping songs in MAD DOG accompanied by an infectious repeating motif. The entire group also parade their polished vocals and artful harmonies in Day Dream as well as their impeccable dance skills in Kick It‘s Kung Fu-inspired choreography.
The album only seems to maintain an ambience in the last three songs which are all calming as the album winds down. The most interesting song here is Not Alone; a very simple tune which stands out among layered tracks which have complicated melodies and backing tracks. Though the basic 80s sound is comforting, the song is important because of its lyrics which speak of chasing your dreams and enduring hard times to get there. A beautiful sentiment to think of as the album draws to a close: “On this path that we walk together, we’re never alone”. It’s only fitting that Not Alone is followed by the album’s final song Dreams Come True that fills the listener with hope and happiness.
“Listen closely to the voice you hear inside you,
All your dreams come true,
Life is beautiful.”