Tuesday, September 25, 2012

DBSK, Catch Me (album)


HoMin returns with their second album after the departure of JYJ from DBSK - still a sore spot for many Cassies, and a thorn in the Korean courts' side. (Why they don't just end the case, I don't know - waste of time and money, if you ask me.) Something about this album feels very different - it almost feels as if this album represents a growth, a moving on, a maturing of the group. Thinking back, much of DBSK's music was very youthful in that intense, all out raw emotion way, and also very fun. But the boys have grown up, and they ain't here to play.

The lead single, Catch Me, is really good, but it's bogged down by the long dubstep break. I mean, as far as compulsory dubstep breaks in pop songs go, it's pretty good, but it takes away from the lovely piano lines and booming electropop of the rest of the song. It also extends the song's runtime to four and a half minutes - way longer than any pop song it needs to be in this day and age. Dubstep is best utilized when it's placed in unexpected places, like at the beginning of the second verse, or bookending the chorus in the hip-hop tinged Viva. (Shout out to the boys for what might be my favorite rapping from them ever in that song.) It works for the video, but if there was an album version or radio edit of this track that got rid of the dubstep break, I'd be a happy camper.

What strikes me the most about this album is how much I like the mid-tempos and ballads. Usually SM ballads are sweet, sweet filler - meant to be pretty and nothing else. But these seem like they have more substance - they feel very romantic and sincere in a way that many ballads that came before them did not. I kept thinking "OST track", and that makes sense since that music is meant to set a mood and evoke a feeling more than anything else, and these songs are wildly successful in that regard. And they feel very suited to this duo, who have grown a lot in the last two or three years - as opposed to the ballads on their last album, which seemed like they belonged to a different DBSK (some of them probably did). My favorite by far is Like A Soap, but I also love the mellow R&B jam Destiny, which does much more for me than the YYJ leftover, Good Night; and How Are You, which is the perfect background music for a chance meeting with a former flame on a city street.

All in all, I think this is a stronger album than Keep Your Head Down. It's a simpler, more cohesive album than anything else that SM has put out recently, concentrating on two different vibes - you could call them "romantic" and "masculine" - rather than throwing everything and the kitchen sink in there. And Changmin and Yunho's vocal progress is well-highlighted. Great addition to the catalogue. But now I'm beginning to wonder - how long before these two are shipped off to the army? *sob*

The "Catch Me" video is your typical SM MV-in-a-box video, differentiated only by its uber-dark color palette, the "Doc Ock Tentacle Of Hell" and the choreography which seems halfway between interpretive dance and imitation tribal dance. The boys look good and make the whole thing look good, but it will only be getting a few replays from me.

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