Sunday 27 July 2014

Block B "H.E.R" EP Review

This review reflects personal opinions and not those of a professional!
Personal rating: 4.5/5

The impression: Block B had me waiting for this album quite reluctantly thanks to their photo teasers. I mean pink? Doesn't ring like Block B's style at all! But I was willing to wait and see how it turned out. And I wasn't disappointed.
I like the fact that their live stages promote "Jackpot" as well since it would have been a shame not to give the deserved attention to this track! And as always, the guys do not disappoint when talking about singing live and putting a show at the same time!
But enough chit-chatting and let's get down to talk about the tracks!

The tracks:
01. Extraordinary Woman (보기 드문 여자) - Compared to their other albums' intros, this track is a slow melody with a jazzy feeling that reminds of the old American pop (talking here about Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Blue etc.). It's not a powerful track, but it gives this peaceful feeling that's just right during a quiet evening with some wine and a good meal. Yep, the boys are now on another level as entertainers. Ok, so I like that Zico tried his hand on another genre other than hip-hop/rap/powerful k-pop, but sincerely, I don't think it completely suits Block B. They had other slow tracks on their previous albums as well, but there were a lot of tracks a la Block B to give them real attention. But with this track opening their new EP... Otherwise, the song is nice, especially the instrumental background - we have guitar, battery, making the fans wish to hear the track live with a band. Even the rap parts are mild and putting into the limelight the exact feelings the track talks about: a man that is in love with his girlfriend, a man that is surprised by his own feelings.
Got to ask: is this year the "season" of love confessions?
A plus given to Zico's English part at the end! It makes me wish he'd have a solo English track sometime in the future!

02. H.E.R - And the track that bears the same name as the EP! This is the crazy style Block B had us used to! It's fun, it's colourful, it features Zico's genius rap, the instrumental is made by a band - what more would we want from this track?!
Just like the previous song, it talks about love, about this "extraordinary' woman that has left all members speechless and made them go gaga after her! But unlike the other track, this one features the craziness of Block B gone to the max! I love how he song gets to you and you hear yourself humming along with it after listening just once (trust me, I got to annoy my friends with this song after it got stuck inside my head).
I like how they changed the members turns to singing as well. Usually we have Zico introducing the track, Kyung or PO, Jaehyo (a line or two), B-Bomb or U-Kwon (again, a line or two) and Taeil doing the actual singing. But now we got to hear P.O singing - ok, let me say it in a different way SINGING, P.O SINGS! And we clearly got to hear B-Bomb and U-Kwon, even Zico can be clearly heard during the chorus. Surprisingly, Taeil is the one that got less lines this time and of course, poor Jaehyo. But it's the major change that makes the track so fun, since P.O's voice is husky and sounds so perfectly during the funky intro and chorus!
And about the MV - is colourful and funky and it still has that Block B trademark craziness, thing which is totally adorable! Especially Zico with his bubbles and body gag movements! But all members are just as crazy and seem to be made for comedy shows! And for this we have to talk to the director that made their MV look so good.
Pluses: Zico's silly act, Zico's aegyo part, P.O's singing voice, B-Bomb's tough act, U-Kwon's voice.

03. Hold Me Now (이제 날 안아요) - More than the first song of the album, this one is indeed a ballad. It's a sweet track featuring amazing vocals and the sweet tune of the piano. It's a love song and once again, it has that touch of the old pop ballads, something that makes me think of either Westlife or Blue or, if we talk about k-world, then it's definitely SS501. So yeah, as much as I like Zico's composing skills and this song as well, I have to point out that it's definitely not Block B's style. 
Plus: Jaehyo's fans can rest assure that the boy can really sing! I mean, this song is mostly his :)

04. Jackpot - Now this song is complete madness, screaming Block B from the very first seconds! This track is pure genius, so funky and fun, it makes you sing along with it without even knowing the language or the lyrics! It just has that thing, you know?
Love the piano at the beginning and the drums during the song, the fact that a live version of this song would sound so badass and rockish that would make the floor tremble under the fans' feet! But what I enjoy the most is the playfulness of their voice and of the entire tune, while the words they sing are real. I think this is one of the first songs of the year that has a real message behind the lyrics. Here, Block B no longer talks about love and break-ups, feelings and touching stories, but about success and greed, about how people perceive these and how every single one of us is struggling to become successful and how easy it is to get lost on the path of success. I think the song, which is composed by Zico, of course, is a message for their fans and for the entire k-world: they will be back more successful than before, they will not be brought down by anything and that with every blow they receive, they'll only raise more powerful. That's just deep, man! Congrats to Zico!
Plus: The MV is a piece of art! It's a sort of continuation of "Very Good", but at the same time it's somehow different. The "Very Good" MV was somehow more violent than funny, while the MV for "Jackpot" is funny and full of nonsense, featuring a lot of glam and that funky image Block B manages to pull every single time! Love Zico's kimono from the beginning, his blue lenses, his English, Kyung's hypnotic umbrella, B-Bomb's gentleman's image, P.O strange taste for bugs and bright hair colours (swear that this man can pull any hair colour!), Taeil's high kick during the dance and chorus part, U-Kwon's obsession for guns and fight scenes, Jaehyo's high note at the end. But what's really interesting is that the MV puts the lyrics into visual content: the boys are transforming the girl, preparing her for her successful path. But, as real life teaches us, no good deed gets unpunished, as the girl flips the bird while walking away from the boys, all dressed up. Not that she remains unpunished either... see what I mean? Everything in this MV has a moral!

Overall: The album is great! Zico is one heck of a composer and producer and I think he knows exactly what the strong and weak points of his fellow bandmates are.. I may not be that fond of the slow tracks and all, but I guess Zico had his reason for including them in this album. As their all related to love and one "extraordinary" woman, should I guess that he's in love? :) (c'mon, I wasn't wrong with Taeyang's dedication of 'Eyes, Nose, Lips" either :P). I deducted 0.5 points just because I personally believe that songs like those don't suit Block B that well. Otherwise, the songs are very good and nice to listen, especially since they make me believe I hear a drama's OSTs :)
One more thing: I really read comments on the internet about Block B's comeback and I was pleased to see that despite them having some difficulties in the past, the BBCs remained strong on their side. One thing though - some compared Zico's skills with GD's composing ability and said some nasty things about how the younger generation has some more "juice" flowing inside them. Well, I didn't like that. Not at all. GD is my bias and so is Zico and I never, ever thought of comparing them. GD is GD and sincerely speaking, I think that man will compose songs even when he'll be old and cranky, while Zico is Zico, his rockish and badass style overflowing with every sing he writes. They're both geniuses and awesome singers! Why compare them? That's just mean and it could hurt them both! So, please, BBCs and other fans as well, let's show the artists the respect they deserve, ok? 'Cause just as you don't like being compared to someone else when doing something, I guess they don't like it either. After all, they all work hard for the fans :)

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