[ALBUM REVIEW] NU’EST’s 3rd Mini Album – Sleep Talking
Coming back with their third mini-album Sleep Talking, NU’EST (New Established Style and Tempo) sure had the fans talking with the introduction of a new music genre called ‘mystic fantasy’. NU’EST’s debut in 2012 might not have been the talk of the town like EXO and B.A.P, but NU’EST is definitely one group to look out for with their rising popularity.
THE LOOK: A Glimpse of the Packaging
L.O.Λ.Es would find the packaging familiar to their previous mini-albums, with a hardcover that makes it look like a book. The CD is attached to the front, a bright Fuchsia pink with the usual words ‘NUEST’, ‘NU’ , ‘ESTABLISH’, ‘STYLE’, and ‘TEMPO’ written on it in a full circle. Attached is the mini photobook, which includes pretty pictures of the boys in colourful clothes, a message from each of the members as well as the lyric sheets.
While it is nothing out of the ordinary, the design is functional and compact, making it easy to collect and stash on one’s desk or bookshelves.
THE SOUND: Album Review
♫ 잠꼬대 (Sleep Talking)
(Watch the music video)
If there’s one thing that sets NU’EST apart from the rest of the rookies in 2012, it would be the content of their songs. Debut track Face won the hearts of various fans with its catchy tune and creative choreography involving chairs, and of course, for its lyrics that aims to raise awareness about the rising bullying statistics among teens. Title track of first mini album Action talks about breaking free from conformity, another issue that is faced by teens their age. However, second mini-album Hello took on a mature image with its mellow track, steering away from the rebellious image with something more subtle.
And now, we have Sleep Talking, which steps away from the ballads and returns to the original roots of the group in terms of the catchy tune and addictive dance moves. While the song sounded pretty mainstream as compared to their previous tracks, Sleep Talking went a notch higher in terms of its production. By incorporating sound effects into the song, it created an interesting story-telling effect, yet the loud beats and electronic tunes retains the familiarity that we’ve previously encountered in previous albums. This also helps to set the song apart from the other bubblegum-like pop songs about love that is pretty overused in today’s K-pop industry, especially amongst rookies.
There are no additional theatrics needed in the choreography, with key choreography revolving around head nodding and stretching as if they are stumbling back and forth dreamland. The electronic pop element is strong but it did not overpower the boys’ voices. Instead, serving as a background groove that lets one bounce to the beat.
Second promotional track Beautiful Ghost opens with the eerie sound effects of a creaking door hinge, quickly followed by the strumming of electric guitar. The song leaves no break as it brings the audience through a pop-rock inspired tune with loud guitar and drums. If Sleep Talking is to show the colourful and vibrant youth of the boys, then Beautiful Ghost aims to bring out a slightly darker side; Sleep Talking gives the image of adorable confession, while Beautiful Ghost brings out a more confident, even slightly flirtatious image of a young man. Out of the six tracks, Beautiful Ghost is no doubt another gem that one can listen over and over again besides Sleep Talking.
Pretty (featuring Hello Venus’ lead vocalist Yoo Ara) is another song that brought in funk elements with a modern twist, a delightful song to enjoy. To be honest, the tune is not as exciting compared to other tracks, but the little details such as the various percussion instruments were well-incorporated. Ara’s role in the song isn’t overpowering, and added a touch of sweetness to this otherwise slightly mundane song. Nonetheless the repetitive syllabus and simple song is pleasant to the ears, though honestly speaking, nothing really special.
♫ Fine Girl
(Watch the music video)
Fine Girl is another track that is fun to listen in Summer – a track that you could replay on a road trip but likewise, is nothing very extraordinary. In fact, the tune probably reminds one of previous songs like Sandy, and not to say that it’s anything bad. It’s bright, it’s energetic, and it’s youthful – a formula for a groovy song that easily puts a smile on one’s face.
Ballad track Love You More features lead vocalists Minhyun and Baekho; this time round, Ren lends his voice to create a softer side as compared to the huskier and deeper vocals. The underlying strings and piano gives it a classic mellow touch. It’s a standard k-ballad song, which could have been better sung when the boys are a tad older and more experienced. Nonetheless, it is a soothing song to listen to on quieter days.
Last track Please Don’t/Don’t Wear Revealing Clothes ends the album nicely on a lighter note. While the track might be liken to Pretty, Please Don’t sings of a possessive boy’s inner thoughts. The melody is less funky but with something more soothing and pleasant to the ears. The chorus with the boys belting out the lyrics ‘Don’t wear revealing clothing’ sounds almost cute, and is a great song to end the album.
The overall album follows along a dreamscape theme, which showcased both a slightly mature side of the boys as we had already seen in Hello mini-album, though retaining their boyish charms in terms of energy. While previous title tracks tackled serious problems like bullying and conformity, the third mini album tackles the topic of love. All six tracks talks about love and crushes, which isn’t exactly a bad thing – who says youngsters couldn’t empathize with love problems? Besides, with a good mix of dance pop tracks and slow tempo songs, it allows for variety without being boring or streamlined. If anything, NU’EST’s third mini album further established the group’s style and tempo, and it would be interesting to see what the boys would offer next.
♫ Sleep Talking Spoiler Video (feat. JRON)
(Watch the teaser video)
Perhaps an extension of what Aron and JR has shown, with strong rap bridges to a groovy background beat as the other members belt out to their hearts content? What do you guys think?
Album Rating: 3.7/5.0
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