Last month, South Korean pop-rock/hip-hop group B.A.P released its second full length studio album, “Noir,” a beautiful combination of heartfelt and empowering lyrics and dance-infused pop melodies to prove once again why this group is the Best. Absolute. Perfect addition to your YouTube and iPod playlists.
The album opens with “Le Noir,” an instrumental number with a heavy jazz influence.
It segues into “Skydive,” the album’s leading single, a rock and hip-hop mashup. The song has themes of recklessly throwing caution to the wind, to follow your passions through the darkness, tackling danger head-on without fear.
Following “Skydive” is “Ribbon in the Sky,” a pop song with a brilliant lyrical commentary on politics, inequality and injustice. Main vocalist Jung Daehyun shines, beautifully manipulating his highest range in the falsetto.
Then comes “Killer,” an upbeat pop-rock song about falling in love with a dangerous girl, someone who can only hurt him. Yoo Youngjae, the group’s lead vocalist, shines in the chorus, his unique voice bringing the message to life.
“Fermata” follows, a slow and sad piano-driven song performed by the group’s vocal line. The men sing how they’re lost and scared, how they let go of their true love and can never get over her.
The album’s sixth track, and my personal favorite, “Pray,” is a rap/hip-hop piece written and performed by the group’s rappers, leader Bang Yongguk and Choi Junhong. A dramatic song that focuses on violence, anger and the darkest emotions, the two men cry out for hope among despair, for a way to find peace and happiness.
“I Guess I Need U” comes next, another song written by the two rappers. The song is reminiscent of the group’s 2014 hit “Body and Soul,” and discusses similar themes of sex and love in an R&B format.
Then “Chiquita” continues the theme of sexual attraction, as the men are obsessed with a gorgeous girl. Two of the group’s vocalists, Moon Jongup and Kim Himchan, try and succeed at brief rap lines in this Spanish-infused pop number. Personally, I don’t care for the song, as it feels very un-B.A.P in nature.
The ninth track, “Walk,” is a slower pop number, in which the men sing about losing their lovers, being unable to move on with their lives and “walking” to get to a better place, both in a physical and emotional sense.
The track “Now” was written and performed as a solo pop piece by Moon. An adorable song about the innocent and precious side of loving someone, he begs his lover to fight to be with him, to discover if their love is forever.
The last track with lyrics is a Korean version of B.A.P’s previous Japanese single “Kingdom.” A rock song about not giving up in the face of opposition, the men sing about this world and community they’ve created, a hopeful place where everyone fights for their dreams and tries to make the world a better place. Personally, I prefer the Japanese version, mainly because it’s hard to translate a song into another language and make it still have the same sound and impact as the original.
The album concludes with instrumental versions of “Skydive” and “Fermata,” and leaves the listener feeling happy and emotional, amazed with the journey they’ve encountered from a group that has grown so beautifully in the last five years, pushing and exceeding all expectations since its 2012 debut to create an album one could only describe as art.