Album Review — We Are Superhuman

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Album Review — We Are Superhuman

Seoul-based group NCT 127 are back with their fourth EP

Seoul-based group NCT 127 are back with their fourth EP "We Are Superhuman."

Media by SM Entertainment Co.

Seoul-based group NCT 127 are back with their fourth EP "We Are Superhuman."

Media by SM Entertainment Co.

Media by SM Entertainment Co.

Seoul-based group NCT 127 are back with their fourth EP "We Are Superhuman."

Over the course of a year, now a nine-member boy group NCT 127 have made a lot of noise in the K-Pop scene. The megastars exploded onto the global stage with hits like “Regular,” “Simon Says,” “Lips” and “Wakey-Wakey,” all becoming progressively louder and over the top. The production was off the charts, the choreography was unparalleled to any other and the vocals were top notch.

But with every release, I became more reluctant to listen. Everything seemed plastic, the ultimate example of talented individuals being groomed and used by a corporation to make money by pandering towards easy-to-please audiences. It didn’t help my view of the group when their label SM Entertainment relocated the tenth member WinWin to form another group, WayV, in order to attract Chinese audiences. Most of my negative feelings have to do with their management, but disregarding that doesn’t make their songs any better.  

Considering all of this, you can understand how awestruck I was when I heard NCT 127’s newest EP “We Are Superhuman” and actually liked it. In fact, I didn’t just like it, I loved it.

NCT 127 'Highway to Heaven' NEO CITY Tour Film ver.

Putting aside all aforementioned flaws, “We Are Superhuman” is their first release that actually made me feel like the group was comprised of individuals with personalities, which is what the group lacked the most. Granted, I didn’t listen to their last EP “Awaken,” but when every single is a booming EDM monstrosity, the value of each member can be lost very quickly.

I knew this EP would be different as soon as the first track “Highway to Heaven” began. The soaring vocals brought a smile to my face, as genuine sensitive emotions I had been waiting for from NCT 127 were finally conveyed. The instrumental is equally intimate and leaves room for each member to shine equally, instead of members Mark and Taeyong constantly being in the spotlight with aggressive singing and rapping.

Don’t be fooled: this release doesn’t completely abandon their past brash style of songs, but instead refines it into something tasteful and enjoyable. Nothing truer can be said about the EP’s lead single “Superhuman.” A tasty techno groove, “Superhuman” is full of texturized soundbites and an unforgettable chorus. Once again passionate vocals can be felt throughout the song, supported by occasional smooth keys that soften an otherwise blast of a song. The electric vibes of the song are perfectly captured in the music video and choreography, making it a definite must watch. I will admit (to much embarrassment) that much dancing to this song was done in my kitchen while home alone.

NCT 127 엔시티 127 'Superhuman' MV

A similar groove can be found in “FOOL.” Something about the first “whoop” sound bite followed by the plinky spoon-like taps and squishy keys creates an immediate jam. Besides a guitar and minimal percussion, there aren’t many other sounds to unnecessarily clutter the progression of the song. The swagger in the verses have almost the complete spotlight to hook you.

The softest point on this record, and sadly the most forgettable, is “Jet Lag.” Truthfully, it’s exactly what I wanted to hear, but it’s completely outshined by the three tracks before it. The minimal piano balladry completely kills the high energy vibe the first half of the EP establishes. I reorganized the tracklist so that “Jet Lag” played right after “Highway to Heaven,” and it made for a much better overall progression.

“Jet Lag” is only the most forgettable because “Paper Plane” is so sickeningly corny. The guitar loop and piano chords follow the pitch of the singing too closely, making for an overly homogenous song. The beat drop is lame, and the chorus is nonexistent. After the first listen, you’ll want to crumple this paper plane up and throw it in the bin with the rest of the unoriginal love songs you’ll hear this year.

FOOL

And finally, there’s “OUTRO: WE ARE 127” in which the members remind you that they are indeed, 127 (to a dank dubstep beat, of course.) The sick wubs this track provides will make you want to go back and listen to the killer “Superhuman,” but at only 1 minute and 27 seconds long, there’s not much else to say.

“We Are Superhuman” will undoubtedly compete with BTS’ “Map of the Soul: Persona” for Seoul’s biggest worldwide release of the summer. As a diehard Army at heart, I can’t remain totally unbiased in my opinion. But I will honestly say that NCT 127 really impressed me and completely changed my opinion of them. It really was that good.

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