The album format has always been special to me. Whether it’s a full-length or mini, albums have the opportunity to tell stories and develop an act’s personal style. Occasionally, I dive in and offer in-depth track by track reviews, but sometimes a bite-sized overview is just as fun.
That’s what this feature is all about: sharing notable albums and offering some quick thoughts about what makes them tick.
VIXX – Error
Released October 14, 2014
1. Steel Heart
Instrumental intro tracks won’t get the full Bias List rating, but I love how K-pop albums set the scene before hitting you with their first proper song. I’ve always enjoyed the descending (or ascending?) elevator sound here, followed by atmospheric dubstep. It feels like we’re being transported to another musical dimension.
What can I say about Error? It deserves a longer post, because this is a bonafide legend. This is how you do a dark concept, people! The track pulses with such heartbreak, but never feels mopey or minimalist. The chugging synth forges a hurricane backbeat, supporting a stunner of a chorus. The song builds toward an emotional catharsis, never losing its focus or drive. It’s simply perfect.
3. After Dark
VIXX have always been strong album artists, and After Dark proves this yet again. It’s strong enough to be a title track, albeit a lighter, bouncier one than Error. I love how the percussion manages to be hard-hitting yet maintains a funky sound that isn’t needlessly noisy. The second verse rap break is a ton of fun, and that chorus pummels in the best way.
4. Blue Blossom (청춘이 아파)
I’m a big fan of mid-album ballads, but only if they’re strong. Blue Blossom is probably too groovy to be considered a straight-up ballad, but it calms the energy after those first two dance tracks. Casting Ravi’s percussive vocal as punctuation during the verses works so well. However, Blossom‘s soft, lilting chorus is its definite standout. The melody is so pleasing and memorable.
5. Time Machine
We’re back to upbeat fare — and another song that could have easily been the title track. Time Machine is the most buoyant moment on the album, and strongly recalls the group’s 2013 hit G.R.8.U. The two share the same musical DNA and race toward a similarly euphoric chorus. This is bright and energetic without being cute, and that’s an important distinction. Of course, I love it!
6. What U Waiting For
Immediately, we’re hit with edgier synth textures as the album pulls us back into darker territory. As we blast into the first verse, the SHINee vibes are strong. In fact, this sounds like an outtake from that group’s Misconception series. That alone is very high praise, but VIXX imbue the track with their own personality. The call and response chorus works so well with its pair of ultra-catchy refrains.