Neverland is the second album full-length album released by U-KISS. The title track was used as the promotional song and SOMEDAY was also promoted live.
Released: September 1, 2011
2. Neverland [MV]
3. Baby Don’t Cry
5. Take Me Away
6. On The Floor
7. Friend’s Love (친구의 사랑)
8. April Story (4월 이야기)
10. TOP THAT
11. Tell Me Y
12. Hope to See You Again (다시 만나요)
13. SOMEDAY (inst.)
The Intro on this album is quite intriguing. It starts with a heavy drum beat before bringing in some futuristic sounding synths and some of Kevin’s singing parts on the title track. It’s a great way to start the album and really surprised me.
The title track, Neverland, is a bit different than the intro as while it features a heavy beat and futuristic sound, it lacks the freaky synths and is reminiscent of their past dance songs like Am I That Easy?, Round and Round and Shut Up. While it’s a bit disappointing that despite saying they were changing their sound and decided to revert to something similar to the past especially after the more pop / R&B oriented 0330, it is safe to say this song is on another level which makes up for that. Unlike their last few dance title tracks, it’s so much cleaner in production and is probably their most refined promotional song since Am I That Easy?. While I did find parts of the rap to be a bit out of place and the second half of the chorus was pretty much a collage of Eh’s, everything was pieced together quite well and came out hard hitting in both the melody and the musical arrangement.
Baby Don’t Cry starts with explosive opener and continues the general sound of the previous song but with a slight R&B influence to it. I don’t really enjoy the chorus as much as I thought I would mostly because of the excessive autotune layered over the vocals, but there is something modern and slick about its execution. Not to mention, the verses are gorgeous. Actually, there is just something about the whole song that is really gorgeous.
SOMEDAY really slows things down and gives us the first ballad. Despite potentially being a total bore fest as many idol ballads are, this song is saved by the beautiful pre-chorus and chorus. The melody mixed with the heavy beats and flash of synths really brings the chorus up a step in comparison to the emptier verses. It was also a nice change to hear everyone sing and no rap to break the song up.
When Take Me Away first opens, I was dreading a dull ballad, but there is something about there is a gentle quality about this one that makes it even better than the last. Compared to the last few songs that featured pretty heavy arrangements, this one only features the piano and it helps to showcase the great melody and vocals. Not to mention it features quite a bit of harmonizing, which is always a great touch.
On The Floor is the return to the fast paced world and up to this point is the weakest song. It’s a little more on the generic side with its heavy club beats and repetition and while this can make for a good formula there is something missing. It’s by no means a bad song, but especially compared to the last few great tracks, this one just falls to the back.
Friend’s Love brings a weird transition because we are brought right back to a ballad. The song is quite nice with its R&B beat and the overall more uplifting atmosphere makes the song come off more like an OST track. Actually it reminds me of something DBSK would do on their first two albums with the chorus’ sung in unison.
April Story is a duet between Soohyun and Brave Girls’ lead vocalist Eun Young. The song itself is quite nice and reminds me of something from the mid-00s although it’s nothing that particularly stands out. The vocals definitely make the song though as both are quite strong vocalists and their vocals complement each other quite well.
Obsession is another break from the slower tempo songs and it features only Kiseop and AJ. Firstly, I think it’s great that there is a song that finally puts Kiseop into the forefront because he usual has minimal parts in most of their other songs. Secondly, the song isn’t bad although it’s a bit too repetitive at times and parts of the chorus came off as a bit messy. It reminds me of those ballad oriented dance songs as there are some breaks with a piano line and it would’ve been nice if this was seen a bit more.
The thing with TOP THAT that I enjoy most is that it while it’s an upbeat song, it features a stronger hip-hop influence to it. With that said, it sticks out like a sore thumb on the album and pretty much ruins any cohesion the album might have. The song isn’t bad but a bit too aggressive for my tastes and sometimes just comes off as messy and doesn’t really fit the groups’ vocals.
Tell Me Y features a heavy beat but brings a more midtempo track. It only includes the rappers Eli and Dongho as well as another singer SWIN (P.O of Paran). It’s a pretty nice song and has a more relaxed quality to it despite being dominated by rapping. I actually find the transitions to this song quite well done and they don’t seem as oddly contrasting as I was first imagining.
The last song on the album, Hope to See You Again, features two Paran members, Ace and P.O. The song has a really long opening that is full of just talking, which is sort of annoying. With that said, when the song itself starts up, it’s is pretty relaxing. The song builds up by the end, but the whole thing is quite beautiful with its fast-paced melody and emphasis on vocals. There are some great notes here and there and the two Paran members really have great voices that add to the song.
Overall: U-KISS’ second album was a major improvement over their first. While I did find the first half of the album stronger than the second half, there were good songs throughout. My only problem was mostly with the dance tracks that were a bit out of place with their placement and were the weaker tracks on the album (except the title track). It also would’ve been nice to hear some more songs that could act as transitions between the heavy dance songs and the more straightforward ballads such as Baby Don’t Cry or Tell Me Y. With that said, it’s an overall strong album and features quite a few songs that shine in U-KISS’ discography and even compared to other K-Pop idol songs as a whole like Take Me Away. I was pleasantly surprised.