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[Album Review] MBLAQ – “100% Ver” (***)

9 Jan

Last summer, MBLAQ showed a different side of them, returning to their roots and thus making their best album to date. “Mona Lisa” was a great album filled with music that fit MBLAQ so well and that made them stand out among the throng of idols coming back. Now, they return with their latest offering, “100% Ver.”. Let’s see if they live up to the high standard they’ve set for themselves.

Unfortunately for all involved, we start off on a rocky beginning with “Run”. I can totally see how the song can be addictive, with its many screams and oddly mixed and mashed instrumental. Nevertheless, it’s an annoying mix of unflattering autotuned (though less severe than their previous materials) verses, oversaturated sound effects that add little dimension to a song that strives hard to be an oddball among all the releases. Some people may think it is unique but I find it just overtly silly: a noble if entirely utterly frustrating failure of a song.

Thankfully, we get a reprieve from the mess with a genuinely awesome track. “It’s War” is a fine song that employs the very best of MBLAQ’s talents. Whereas “Run” cut-and-paste approach to its production didn’t work well (read: failed completely), the similar style works wonders here; the grandiose and cinematic instrumental is balanced by the pop sensibilities of MBLAQ’s voices and thus we end up with a non-formulaic song that genuinely moves you.

“Scribble” was already reviewed previously. It’s still the best track on the album.

The next track, “Jittery Girl” acts more like a fan service track with its romantic and syrupy approach, complete with voice over dialogue. There’s something fascinating about how much the guys’ harmonization has improved. It’s as if they don’t stop singing together like in their previous effort where almost everyone gets solo lines. Here, we get a united MBLAQ. Even Mir doesn’t do much to be honest. Nonetheless, I liked this song a lot. There’s a bounce to it that is aided by the piano melody and the boys, as we already know, are quite adept at singing.

The last song, “Hello My Ex” really slows down the album from the ADD-style of “Run” to a more grounded state. It’s a lovely tune, at certain points reminding me of how adorable MBLAQ can be when they’re not trying to be oddballs. Thunder has really gotten into his groove of singing. His confidence is reassuring because there is a marked improvement in his vocal skill. The rest of the group are working on the same level they’ve been at for a while now so there isn’t really much to praise here.

Overall, I was underwhelmed by this album considering how amazing their previous ones. Thankfully, there are still some interesting choices here, particularly “It’s War” and “Scribble” but the rest are either okay or just plain bad. I was hoping for an album that really put MBLAQ ahead of their competition in terms of style. But I don’t think this is it. If anything, this album is a downgrade from their progress.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (generous but apt)

–Clarence

 

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2 Responses to “[Album Review] MBLAQ – “100% Ver” (***)”

  1. eppson January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Nice review!!! Your favorites line up with mine 🙂 “Run” and “Scribble” are the fast and slow examples of everything I admire about Korean music.

    Although it doesn’t compare with Mona Lisa, we can expect that every MBLAQ release will have good, consistent elements– and that’s a sign of a good group.

  2. eppson January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    OHHHH sorry I meant “It’s War”—definitely not “Run”

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