[Mini-Album] NU’EST – CANVAS

CANVAS is the fifth mini-album released by NU’EST. Love Paint (Every Afternoon) was used as the promotional track.

canvas
Released: August 29, 2016
1. Daybreak
2. R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning)
3. Love Paint (Every Afternoon)
4. Thank You (evening by evening)
5. Look (a starlight night)

I love how the mini-album titles cover the times throughout the day. The first song, Daybreak is a duet between Minhyun and JR. It’s a pretty laid back R&B-inspired track that works really well with Minhyun’s sweet tone. This kind of song is quite popular in Korea and while it can get a bit dull at times, I really like this song. The melody is catchy and the music suits it really well and fits the theme. It’s a nice starter. R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning) starts off with a piano, but starts to bring some synths and a beat in and creates a fun dance tune. My only gripe with this song is that the first chorus has nothing and only features the instrumental. I’m usually fine with this, but I feel like this song has so much more potential because the beat and music is so beautiful. It’s still a stellar tune and something I wasn’t expecting. The promo track, Love Paint (Every Afternoon), is my favourite NU’EST song and was one of my favourites from 2016. It goes the electro-urban route and is similar to ‘Overcome’ from their last mini. It builds up slowly before exploding with a powerful beat and flying synths. It is really beautiful and I just love how everything ties in so well with each other. JR’s rap is the only part that sticks out a bit, but the rest of the song easily covers that. Charming. Thank You (evening by evening) is a midtempo R&B tune although the R&B influences are much stronger here within the melody. I think this is a solid tune, but it’s the weakest at this point. I feel like it doesn’t have the same dreamy feel the rest of the mini has and it feels a bit generic and dull at times. The vocals are really nice though. I was really worried the last song was going to be a slower tune, but Look (a starlight night) is another upbeat dance tune. It has a cooler vibe to it and doesn’t really burst out until the chorus, where that beat comes in and really changes things up. It’s a bit repetitive in its hooks, but there are some nice melodic parts in between. With that said, I love the feel of the song and it ties really well into the theme with its dreamier qualities.

Overall: This mini is amazing. I am really impressed. It has a really cohesive sound despite all the tracks sounding different from each other. All three of the upbeat tunes are solid and some of NU’EST’s best songs, while Daybreak is a great midtempo R&B tune. The only one I wasn’t keen on was Thank You, but it is still a decent song. I just wish the music followed by having a dreamier quality to it. Besides that, this mini is the group’s best.

A

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[Mini-Album] NU’EST – Q is.

Q is. is the fourth mini-album released by NU’EST. Overcome was used as the promo song.

qis
Released: February 17, 2016
1. My Heaven (나의 천국)
2. Overcome (여왕의 기사)
3. In Fact (사실 말야)
4. Bickering (티격태격)
5. ONEKIS2

My Heaven is such a surprisingly strong starter. It has a heavy electronic dance sound and it shows a nice progression from the group’s older material. I love the music and the different synths tied with the pulsating beat really work nicely with the guys’ vocals. I do wish the chorus melody was a bit stronger, but everything does a great job of working together. Excellent! It also ties into the promo song, Overcome. This is one of my favourite title tracks from the group because it brings that urban electropop sound, but does it in an absolutely gorgeous way. The beat is pounding and it has some striking synths on top that all make the melody feel like it just floats above it. It’s a weird contrast, but works really nicely. Baekho especially sounds amazing here. In Fact is a midtempo pop tune. It’s the type of coffeehouse kind of pop/R&B tune that has become popular in Korea in recent years. I do like this one tries to change things up by bringing a more electronic feel to things. The song is really laid back and has a good vibe going on, although I don’t think the melody is as much of an ear worm as I would hope for. Not bad, but a bit forgettable. Bickering does bring something a bit more refreshing with its jazzier edge. It has a similar laid back vibe to it, but brings in a fuller set of instruments that keeps the song’s energy up. I quite like the music with its touches of brass and piano. The chorus is much stronger than the last song and while the hooks aren’t as strong, it seems more complete. It works in the long run. A solid tune. Rounding out the mini is ONEKIS2. Despite the weird name, the song is actually a ballad. I’m always a bit iffy with K-Pop ballads as they can be total hits or misses, but this one is quite nice. The gentleness of the music tied with the strong vocals really helps set the setting. Unfortunately, the song decides to keep this gentle vibe throughout and it ends up a bit dull. I wish the chorus had more energy to it as it sort of drags on by the end.

Overall: This isn’t their strongest mini-album, but it is solid. The first two songs are especially strong and I love the heavy electronic sound that the first half of the mini brings. I do wish the last three songs had a bit more energy to them and were stronger, but they were still decent tunes.

B+

[Single] NU’EST – I’m Bad

I’m Bad is the second single released by NU’EST. It was released to celebrate the group’s third year anniversary since their debut.

imbad
Released: February 27, 2015
1. I’m Bad
2. A Scene Without You (나와 같은 차를 마시고)

I’m Bad is a laid back midtempo pop/R&B tune. It’s the kind of song that is quite popular in Korea and the type that could be played in a cafe or as background music. It has some really nice parts to it though. The chorus is especially catchy with the “I’m bad” hook, which is cleverly used. This is nicely tied in with the arrangement that has some quirks. The touches of guitar and the odd brass-like synth that cover the backdrop really help to give the music a bit of character. It’s a relaxing tune. A Scene Without You starts off like a ballad, but it gains some steam as it progresses. Once the chorus hits, the music brings in some percussion and synths to help bring a fuller sound. I quite like it, although I wish the melody was a little more memorable. I don’t think it sticks as well as the last song despite the similarities between the two in terms of feeling.

Overall: This was a bit of a change from NU’EST as it doesn’t really have an “upbeat” song. Instead, both tunes are midtempo pop songs that would be heard in a cafe or something of this sort. These two songs are actually solid tunes, but they sort of just blend in with each other and in the grand scheme of things, don’t quite stand out in NU’EST’s discography.

B+

[Album] NU’EST – Re:BIRTH

Re:BIRTH is the first album released by NU’EST. Good Bye Bye was used as the promotional song.

rebirth
Released: July 9, 2014
1. Judgement
2. Big Deal
3. Good Bye Bye (굿 바이 바이)
4. Darkness (사랑 없는 사랑)
5. Storybook
6. Climax
7. Give Me a Shoulder (어깨빌려)
8. Face
9. Action
10. Hello (여보세요)
11. Sleep Talking (잠꼬대)

Judgement is a really weird intro. I sort of like it as it has a funky beat, but it just goes all over the place and the rap is a bit awkward sounding. It doesn’t hype things up as well as it should. Big Deal is a solid tune though. It actually reminds me of something a little older and seems like an updated version of a boy band song from 2008 or 2009. It has a really heavy beat and blast of synths and strings to create a more dramatic sound. With that said, it does update things a bit with some dubstep popping in during the raps. My only issue is that I wish the chorus just went even more into it. I feel like the arrangement is a bit empty and just missing that one thing, which is unfortunate as the chorus delivers. It’s a cool song. Good Bye Bye is definitely more contemporary and focuses a lot on a pulsating dance beat. I really love the verses as that beat helps to drive the song along and gives the song a bit of drama. The chorus isn’t bad, but it is a bit of a letdown. I think the melody is just a bit too predictable and while the beat is great, the melody just floats above and doesn’t hit in the same way. There are still some nice parts to it though. It is still quite catchy and the second, more melodic half of the chorus helps to deliver something a little more interesting. Decent song, but just missing something. Darkness is really great though. I actually feel like this would have been a good follow-up to Hello. It’s more on the midtempo side, but it has a gorgeous guitar and plays well to the strengths of the members. The verses are nice and the chorus does a good job of providing a good contrast to them. It’s catchy and everything just flows so well together. Storybook gives us something a bit more on the generic pop sound. That’s not necessarily bad as these kinds of songs can be quite nice to listen to. In this case, it is a decent B-side. I think the arrangement isn’t particularly original and reminds me of something from U.S pop in 2009~2010. I do wish the melody was a little more interesting though. It has some nice ideas, but just comes off a bit flat. Not a bad song though. Climax has some interesting ideas, but everything comes off just a bit too messy. It has a nice piano pop sound to it with a cool blend of synths. Unfortunately, I feel like the pace of everything is just a bit too fast. If it was slowed down a bit, the song would actually sound a lot better. The chorus especially just zooms past and there is no time for the song to really sink in and the fast paced doesn’t quite match the more soaring quality of the arrangement. The weakest track on here unfortunately. Fortunately, the laid back R&B jam, Give Me a Shoulder, pops up next. Featuring vocalist Bumzu, I love the sound of this song as it is definitely something that is popular in Korea nowadays. It has that coffee shop vibe to it, but it keeps things interesting by upping the pace of things. The two rappers in NU’EST do an excellent job of providing their own stories and implementing that into their raps. It gives the song a more personal style. The rest of the album just features their older promotional singles. FACE and Action are decent electronic pop tunes, but they still aren’t my favourites from the group. Hello is more on the slower side and definitely one of the group’s strongest songs, whereas Sleep Talking a fun and catchy tune.

Overall: This was a pretty good album. I do think the score of it was heightened by the inclusion of the old promotional singles at the end, but the album tracks were still largely on the good side of things and there were a few that were even better than the promotional single. I do find the group to excel on the more midtempo, R&B side of things.

A

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – Sleep Talking

Sleep Talking is NU’EST’s third mini-album. The title track was used as the promo song.

sleeptalking
Released: April 5, 2011
1. Sleep Talking (잠꼬대)
2. Beautiful Ghost
3. Pretty (예뻐)
4. Fine Girl
5. Love a Little More (조금 더 사랑할게)
6. Don’t Wear Revealing Clothes (야하게 입지마)

After the more serious Hello, NU’EST bring something a little more lighthearted with Sleep Talking. The song is a huge departure from their first two upbeat dance tunes as well. However, I sort of enjoy it. The song is quite disjointed as the rap and verses just feature a heavy beat and vocoder, whereas the choruses utilize more synths and a lighter beat. I do find the melody quite catchy, even if the second half of the chorus is largely repetitive. I just find the vocals to be a tad thin and I wish there was more power. Fun song though. Beautiful Ghost changes things up by bringing a bit of a rock edge to the pop tune. I do wish the verses had a bit more power to them though as I find the vocals don’t quite match the heavy guitar. The pre-chorus especially is a little odd as things slow down a bit. It gives a good contrast to the more energetic chorus, but it drags on a bit too long. The chorus is pretty good though. The melody is catchy and melodic, but I still feel a lack of power. Not bad though. Pretty is one of the highlights of the song. It has a more laidback electropop sound to it and does a much better job utilizing the boys’ vocals. I love the calm verses where Yoo Ara (formerly of Hello Venus) adds a few lines. The choruses have a bit more energy and the melody works great with that funk beat. Definitely the strongest song on the mini. Fine Girl has a great disco pop sound that uses some wicked soaring synths to get the work done. I think the fast-paced beat tied with the lighter sounding synths really gives the song some progression. I just wish the melody was a little more impactful. It just sort of glides on top of everything, which is nice, but sounds a bit weak. Love a Little More is the ballad of the mini. I’m usually not very impressed by idol group ballads because they are usually cookie cutter types, and this is just that. It’s nice with its soaring strings and gentle piano, but the melody is a tad forgettable. It isn’t very memorable. I don’t like the title of Don’t Wear Revealing Clothes and the lyrics are just as bad as I imagined. I think that pretty much ruins the song for me. It’s too bad because the music isn’t too bad. I don’t think the production is as streamlined as I would like, but there are some nice touches in the music such as cool refrain in the background.

Overall: I don’t think this mini is as strong as their previous one, but it still includes quite a few solid tunes. Besides the last two tracks, the other four are fun listens and also bring a bit of variety. I especially love the funk sound of Pretty, which I think is one of their strongest songs to date.

B-

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – Hello

Hello is NU’EST’s second mini-album. The title track was used as the promotional song.

hello
Released: February 13, 2013
1. Hello (여보세요) [MV]
2. Hello Hello
3. Introduce Me to Your Noona! (너네 누나 소개시켜줘)
4. Just a Little (조금만)
5. Beautiful Solo

Hello is such a departure from their last two upbeat promo songs. Here, we are given an emotional midtempo R&B ballad. I actually think this is one of their strongest promo tracks. The music is a nice mixture of a flowing R&B beat and touches of the piano and acoustic guitar. There are some really nice quirks that come in the music and it keeps the music quite interesting. Vocally, it’s quite well done and all the members pull their weight, although I’m not totally liking Aron’s rap at the end. Besides that, pretty strong. Hello Hello changes things up with a more EDM-influenced song. I do find the verses a bit forgettable, but the chorus is much stronger. It’s not the most creative, but the melody is quite catchy and is powerful to stand out against the heavy beat. I especially enjoy how the song takes it even a step further for the final chorus. It keeps the song from being too monotone. One of their strongest album tracks. Introduce Me to Your Noona! changes things up a little bit again but giving us a more lighthearted pop song. It’s not the strongest piece, but there are some really great qualities about the song. I love the inclusion of brass in the chorus combined with the jumpy chorus melody. I feel like JR’s rap really works great here and he brings enough character that makes it the highlight of the song. Everything seems to work out quite well here. Strong B-side. Just a Little brings us back to ballad territory with this piano-focused pop ballad that only features Baekho and Minhyun. I’m usually not the biggest fan of Korean ballads, but this one is quite nice. It actually reminds me of something done by TVXQ in their early days with its soaring chorus, relaxing R&B beat and use of strings. The boys do a good job when it comes to the singing as well, especially Baekho. Pretty decent. Beautiful Solo is a really cool change with its pop/rock sound. I actually like the verses because it does a good job building up into something exciting. However, the chorus is a bit of a letdown. It has the energy, but it feels too high-pitched, so the vocals come of screechy and the melody just seems too fast. I think if it was slowed down just a tad, it would have a stronger impact and be more memorable.

Overall: This is probably their strongest mini-album up to this point. Unlike their first two releases, the B-sides are much stronger. The melodies and the music blend together much better and it feels like there was more thought in the production of the song. Even the title track is much stronger and is among their best.

A-

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – Action

Action was released as the boy band’s first mini-album. The title track was used as the promotional song.

action
Released: July 13, 2012
1. Not Over You
2. Action [MV]
3. Sandy
4. Happy Birthday (생일 축하해요)

Not Over You starts off the mini on a lighthearted note. It has that soaring pop sound that I really enjoy, although I do think this one is a bit more generic in sound. I do like the mix of singing and rapping in the verse. The chorus is really uplifting with its pounding beat and floating synths. The melody isn’t bad, but I don’t think it has as much impact as it could given the music. The boys do sound decent though and its a decent opener. Action is a bit of a change with its more aggressive sound. It is very much the follow-up to their debut single, FACE. With that said, this is definitely way more aggressive than that one. I like the electronic sound blended with that heavy pop sound, but I do wish the melody was more inviting. Everything is a bit too aggressive for my tastes. That and the odd breakdown really doesn’t do much for the song. Could be stronger, but it has attitude. Sandy at first sounds like it will be a ballad, but it does have a twist. The verses are very much slower paced and sound like your run-of-the-mill Korean ballad, however things turn around once the fast-paced dance beats come flying in. The melody isn’t so bad and there are some nice moments that work really well with the music, but I don’t particularly like the “Sandy, Sandy” parts. Who is Sandy? It’s okay, but everything is a bit forgettable in the long run. The best part is we hear JR singing. Finally the full-fledged ballad, Happy Birthday is your run-of-the-mill Korean ballad that I was expecting from the last song. This one is actually only Baekho singing, which is nice as he is the strongest vocalist in the group. However, my problem is that this song is really dull. The piano is really nice, but I don’t think Baekho’s voice is particularly made for these emotional ballads. He tends to work better in upbeat songs.

Overall: FACE wasn’t a bad single to debut with, but I felt like Action was just not memorable at all. Everything was rather generic sounding and even the title track wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I don’t quite remember much of the other songs except they weren’t up to the quality this group could bring.

C-