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[Album Review] Big Bang – “Alive” (****)

28 Feb

*The format of this album review is going to be similar to that of the Wonder Girls album in that we (Temi and Clarence) will both write our color-coded reactions to the songs. Enjoy!*

Big Bang’s comeback has been making me antsy since I knew of it way back in the fall. I love Big Bang! They’re my favorite singers and rappers in the K-pop universe. So it’s astonishing that I remain as partial as I am now to their new releases. If anything, I have a higher standard for them because I know they’re capable of making astonishing and moving music. That said, their new album is by no means perfect but it is really good. However, I still have room to kvetch about the things in it.

Tracklist

  1. Intro (Alive)
  2. Blue
  3. Love Dust
  4. Bad Boy
  5. Ain’t No Fun
  6. Fantastic Baby
  7. Wings (Daesung Solo!!)

Intro (Alive)

[Clarence]The intro to the album is quite inadequate but it has enough energy and spunk to propel us into the album. The problem is that it doesn’t transition into the next song, “Blue” quite well. Albums are supposed to be organic in that all songs must be cohesive at least thematically. I’ve already reviewed “Blue” when it first came out but I have to say that the song has improved with more listens. It’s definitely a cold song but that song reflects the theme of the album and the song as well. In fact, it’s emerged as one of my favorite songs ever for Big Bang.

[Temi] I totally agree with Clarence. “Alive really doesn’t give off that burst of energy usually associated with intros. The intro is supposed to make us excited for the rest of the album, but the techno/disco feel that this track brings isn’t really doing it for me. Although it’s a fun track, it’s not as catchy as “Thank You and You” from their previous album. Let’s hope the rest of the album is better.

Blue

We already reviewed “Blue” here

Love Dust

[C]The next song, “Love Dust” is a beautiful and captivating track that mixes melancholic singing with the more midtempo instrumental. There’s a definite theme established at the beginning of the album–they’re very sentimental and forlorn. All members are in fine form, injecting hints of emotion in different parts of the song. My favorite part of the song is Seungri, giving color to the lyrics even if they are only sparse lines. Taeyang is in his usual good form while Daesung dazzles at a far more reserved range. Surprisingly, all three of them get the bigger end of the stick with the song, with both G-Dragon and Top relegated to one verse altogether. Nonetheless, both bring their A-games to the table.

[T] Though I was initially reminded of “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas, I already love this song. It has this attractively breezy, feel-good vibe to it. The entire song seemed a bit on the mellow side, but the boys work with it, adding strong emotion where it’s needed, and passiveness in other places. Also, Daesung was brilliant in this song. His thick tenor fits amazingly well with the style of the song; I feel as though this would be the perfect fit for a solo. I must, say, Taeyang also gives Daesung a run for his money; I feel as though his vocal technique has improved from its already advanced stage. GD and TOP were on the back burner for this track, but they tend to  bring a fierce vibe to tracks which may have been out of place here. However, TOP singing=bliss.

Bad Boy

[C]The next song, “Bad Boy”, is reminiscent of old Big Bang–a throwback to their hip-hop roots. This is definitely a stunning track and I feel like it will age well with me. I love the lyrics of this song–of all the tracks, it’s definitely G-Dragon’s best. There’s regret and acceptance in the track that seems contradictory but at the same time works so well. I love the slowness of the track, especially as it reaches the bridge, with Taeyang oozing sexiness with that one falsetto line.

[T] YES. I have been telling Clarence for months that my only hope for this album is that Big Bang would go back to their R&B/Hip-Hop roots at least once. Well apparently dreams come true 🙂 “Bad Boy” is a sweet, low-tempo R&B piece that really pulls at the heartstrings in a non-conventional way. Even though the song sounds simple on the surface, when you really listen to all of the extra effects and minor adlibs in the background, “Bad Boy” is a pretty complex track. Every member gets the chance to shine in this track (my personal bias is TOP’s amazing rap). I like that TOP and GD both sing and rap while Seungri and Daesung get bigger parts that usual. “Bad Boy” is definitely a star track on this album. As for the MV, I LOVE IT. Big Bang doing group dances? Something I haven’t seen in a long time and definitely a welcome sight to see.

Ain’t No Fun

[C]”Ain’t No Fun” is a mid-tempo track that depicts a man growing frustration with his girlfriend. It’s a very laid back track that emphasizes the iciness of the guy. Again, all of them are firing on all cylinders, with each singer coloring the lyrics with tiredness and frustration at times. I love how Taeyang remains the most sympathetic in the song, simply because it will be just like him to do so.

[T] I was trying to figure out in which genre I would place this song. It’s kinda pop, kinda techno, but totally awesome. After reading the lyrics, I feel like the song is kinda harsh, yet still fun to listen to. A lot of cool effects were used in the track, which gives it a fun electronica sound despite the lyrics. It’s not my favorite song on the album but still is a good listen. 

Fantastic Baby

[C]I’m not the biggest fan of the next song “Fantastic Baby”, the sole true dance track in the album. For a very techno-heavy track, none of them have the energy to really get the audience engaged. They rest somewhere between lazy and tired when they’re talk-singing. Seungri, unfortunately, is the biggest problem, offering nothing in his verse that makes whatever he is singing interesting. Taeyang and Daesung, again, are the best thing about the song, delivering the range and the energy needed to make us want to “boom shakalaka”, as TOP puts it.

[T] What I’ve always liked about Big Bang is that they know how to have fun. This dance track is really fun, exciting, and a little over the top. True to dance form, the vocals seem to take a back burner to the synths, and when they are the main focus, they blend in with the instrumentals. Yes, TOP’s “shakalaka” is no doubt my favorite part of the song, but I really liked how each member blended in with each other and the backing track. “Fantastic Baby”  isn’t neccessarily an illustration of musical genius, but it’s a fun track all the same.

Wings (Daesung Solo)

[C]The last song, “Wings”, Daesung’s solo, is a middling track. I really want Daesung to succeed because I know he is capable of it. I love his energy and voice in this song but overall, I feel it was just average. There was nothing particularly special about it the way “Baby Don’t Cry” felt last year. The instrumental feels overstuffed and understuffed at the same time, a weird but true paradox.

[T] I really think Daesung was channeling his role in the musical drama “What’s Up” in this song. It definitely seemed to fit more on stage than in studio. While it’s still a great song, it seemed a bit too exaggerated for my liking. (Seriously, just imagine him on stage singing this with a chorus backing him). It is a upbeat, uplifting track that showcases a different, tougher side to Daesung that we formerly know. Not that this song can be described as “tough”, but Daesung’s vocals take on an intentionally unpolished technique. It works in some places, but not so much in others. “Wings” may not have been the best song to close out the album with, but it does leave us with that expectant look for the future.

 

[C]Overall, I am very satisfied with this album. Taeyang is the superstar of the album, giving us perhaps his best performances within Big Bang while Daesung and Seungri shined in their moments. I love that the three singers are now getting more parts compared to previous releases because as much as I love TOP and GD, they’re not the only ones in this song.

[T] To be completely honest, I don’t feel as though “Alive” lived up to the mega-high expectations I had for Big Bang. With the exception of “Bad  Boy”, “Blue” and “Love Dust”, I wasn’t really feeling the rest of the tracks on this album. I must say that this is one of the most diverse albums that Big Bang has put out in relation to genre, but that doesn’t make it a stellar album. I agree with Clarence that I really enjoyed hearing more of Seungri and Daesung in this album. Each and every member of Big Bang is extremely talented and the group is that much better for equally showcases each members strengths.

Clarence’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Temi’s Rating: 3.8/5

 

–Clarence and Temi

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4 Responses to “[Album Review] Big Bang – “Alive” (****)”

  1. teemeah February 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    I think tastes differ, because for me personally fantastic baby is the best song Bigbang EVER produced. I have been continuously dancing around my room for over 3 hours now with the song being on infinite loop and I cannot get tired of it (only my body got tired of dancing and hopping around.) The track cannot move people? hell yes it can!!!!! boomm shakalalakaaaa! XDDD ad GD’s mad vocals are just hilarious. fantastic baby all the way, and hats off to GD, because he once again proved why he is just one of the best singer-songwriters on the whole bloody planet :)) Blessing, from Hungary.

    • marieeeeeee7 February 29, 2012 at 3:28 am #

      i agree. i heard fantastic baby and i immediately knew that this was THE workout song. tried it out and i don’t think i’ve moved so fast in a while:)

      alive has really grown on me though. first listen i was a little underwhelmed, but it has silently creeped up on me to become my favourite track off the album. it’s just so encouraging and uplifting that i feel so much better listening to it. a great song to listen to when you’re feeling down.i’m sad it’s not doing as well on the charts though.

  2. ninsarama March 1, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    I feel that as Big Bang matures, their music is becoming more polished. Aside from their dip back into R&B and Hip Hop with Bad Boy, they are venturing further and further away from their debut sound. I honestly love this album aside from Wings. They are the one group that I can trust to move away from the tackiness of K-POP. I mean this in the best way, because I love my tacky K-POP. But, Big Bang ventures to almost an American style of music while maintaining a legitimate Korean flavor. Obvious and catchy hooks still exist in their songs, but Bad Boy sure provides a sweet hook. They have truly become artists with this album.

    As much as I love Daesung and Seungri, I really hope that the older three will do a separate album in the future, especially if they consider the possibility of breaking into the U.S. market.

    • dramapop March 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      I personally think that Daesung and Seungri are essential components of Big Bang in a sense that they do add color, dimension, and for the most part, depth to the group’s songs. Big Bang won’t be Big Bang without them two. Sure, Taeyang kind of fills in Daesung’s parts really well but Daesung’s tone is much richer than Taeyang’s and his upper register is much stronger than Taeyang’s. Seungri too may not be the best singer but just like Sandara in 2NE1, he adds color to Big Bang’s songs. I simply just cannot imagine Big Bang with any of the members missing.

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