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[Album Review] B1A4 – Ignition (***1/2)

13 May

I am an unabashed fan of B1A4 since their debut last year with their first mini-album “Let’s Fly.” That album had one of my favorite songs of last year, “Only Learnt the Bad Things.” I still think they are the best debut of last year’s crop. Their second mini album was blissful if unintentionally funny due to the trademark bad Engrish that they have. Yet, for all the joyful idiocy in those songs, they are brimming with talent that it corrects all of the bad parts of it. For instance, “Beautiful Target” is fun even for all the bad English in it.

With their newest album, the boys are definitely straying away from their cute boy image that they’ve established in their second album. This new mature sound seems like a new chapter for the boys. To what extent are they successful in conveying that maturity  is another thing.

“Baby I’m Sorry”, the title song from the album, is a good beginning, only what really ticks me off about it is the excessive amounts of autotune that even Sandeul, the best singer in the group, has to endure some of it. But I do love the instrumental; there’s a maturity here that we haven’t quite seen before. The lyrics are well-written, especially considering the fact that Jinyoung wrote and produced it. However, I have to take exception to the English here, especially because they do not somehow endear me to the singers, like the mangled English in “Beautiful Target.” I already reviewed “Time Is Over” but just a reminder, it is a fine piece of music, offering such vulnerability from the boys that hasn’t been this deeply felt since “Only Learnt the Bad Things.”

The upbeat songs are all finely produced and are very enjoyable. “So Fine” is light and romantic and quite disarming given the first two songs’ more melancholy opening. It’s definitely a boy-band song, making the audience swoon with its light vocals. “Super Sonic” is summery and I love both CNU and Baro in this song, definitely heightening the charm that the song has. “Feeling” is sensational if only because it’s such a cutesy song and it embraces its silliness. The chorus is so infectious that one cannot help but fall for it. “You Are My Girl” is another adorable track that seems to find the boys between maturity and their adolescence. There are no fireworks in all of these songs but they the group does shine in all of them.

Baro’s solo is probably one of my favorite songs from this album. The melody is so adorable and Baro is so refreshing and charming that I cannot help but fall for him. The song is greatly aided by Min’s presence, adding just the right amount of romanticism the song needs to contrast Baro’s deep voice.

Having said that, the most compelling part of the album is Sandeul, who like in so many songs before, has contributed the most to making sure that each song is grounded in deep feeling and emotion. The ballad “웃어봐” and his solo “짝사랑” are two of his best work thus far, giving each such vulnerability that he threatens to overshadow everyone else half the time. His voice has a dreamy quality that it heightens the drama of the melodies and makes everyone sound good in comparison.

Overall, I do enjoy B1A4’s leap into maturity and given more time, I think they will grow better and become even more compelling.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Clarence

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