Before diving into 2 Baddies album, let’s first make one thing clear SM Entertainment’s K-pop group NCT 127 has great potential in not just the punk noise genre but also in mellow and subdued genres like the R&B and Ballads. The album dropped on September 16, 2022. The group that is known for their edgy tracks that grow on you, is also well equipped to showcase a new side with each comeback.
NCT 127 once again tap into erratic sonic collisions with ‘2 Baddies’ but provide slow-burn with B-side tracks – Album Review
The title track ‘2 Baddies’ plays on the group last year’s sleeper hit track ‘Sticker’. But unlike ‘Sticker’ which was replete with the experimental collaboration of music that eventually grows on the listener, ‘2 Baddies’ falls a little short in measure. Sure, the members did full justice to the track and they gave a stunning performance both visually and vocally. But the saddening part is that there was a huge scope for the album makers to delve into the strengths of the members as individuals and as a group and yet, they failed to reach their potential.
‘Playback’ features a futuristic ‘neo’ vibe and ample reverb beats to set an aura of a video-game-like setting. The ring-ring-ring of a metallic bell followed by fast-paced xylophone beats create a laid atmosphere in the song. Black Clouds begins with a rhythmic thump-thump-thump of the percussion instruments and soon moves on to a melodious chorus. The song feels like it is picked up from a slice-of-life movie.
The following track ‘Gold Dust’ continues the soft RnB mood. Gold Dust is more subdued in tones and there is a more atmospheric feel to it. Doyoung and Taeil shine in the song with their breathy vocals. ‘Crash Landing’ begins with futuristic notes and settles into a stunning chorus with stretchy beats. The vocal line presents a brilliant harmony which is accentuated by the rap verse. The occasional flute notes are a welcome change in the song.
‘Designer’ takes the listener back to the dance-pop genre. The song begins with coarse techno beats but the song slides into a smooth dance-pop number. The rhythmic sonorous bell-like beats in the background cast a certain upbeat mood on the track. ‘Vitamin’ is a sultry number. The members sing with newfound confidence as they refer to themselves as a ‘vitamin’ to sustain love. ‘Tasty’ is a loud number in contrast to its predecessor. There is a sense of urgency in the song, and it is balanced with the up-tempo hip-hop beats. There is an air of mystery and intrigue as the members croon in a sonorous harmony. The song could also remind one of ‘Hot Sauce’ by NCT Dream owing to the multiple food references.
‘Time Lapse’ starts as a post-modern electro narration. The vocals of the members converge to present a picture of love and attempt to repair it. The chorus drops to a reverb-like mood, spreading a static feel. ‘Faster’ is the track you play when you want to provide background to an epic face-off. The coarse and static beats in the bridge and first verse sets the stage for the interspersed techno beats in the chorus. There are also layers to the song with additions of a car revving, blast-like tones, and robotic vocal overlaps.
The penultimate song ‘LOL (Laugh Out Loud)’ is a smooth electro-pop number with a dash of rock. There is a bubbly cheery mood in the song that enlivens the atmosphere when the song is playing. The voices blend smoothly with the music, leaving the listeners to want to listen to more of the song. The album concludes with ‘1,2,7 (Time Stops)’. The song is a nice pick on dance number infused with semi-electric beats. Taeil’s high notes in the song are impressive. The song feels like a piece of great background music for a trailer about love and friendship. It is NCT 127’s thank-you note to their fans for their immense love and unperturbed support.
In conclusion, 2 Baddies by NCT 127 is not so different from their previous releases, but it still packs new flavour. The group tries to break out of their comfort zone and venture into a bold space – be it in costumes or music. The album tries hard to present a new picture but does eventually end up being the same thing in a new package. The B-sides are a breath of fresh air for they paint a dreamy picture amidst the clouds of punk rock music. The year-long wait is fruitful for it brings new music from the artists, but it would have been even better if there were some more experiments in there like they did last year with ‘Sticker’ – a song that grows on the listener. The album feels underwhelming considering the group’s past hits. The members are talented and have proven time and again that they can deliver their best with each comeback. But with 2 Baddies, it certainly feels it is limiting their potential and it feel like a repackaging of the glories past.
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