This is NU’EST’s second mini album and third overall release through Pledis Entertainment. It was released on February 14, 2013.
Givin’ me major SHINee vibes here! The styling is really sharp and I dig the sophisticated all-black look they’re sporting.
It’s been six months since NU’EST’s last comeback, and now the urban electro rookie group themselves have returned with… a rock song? Beautiful Solo may not be the title track of this release, but it certainly brings a different sound from what we’re used to hearing. Since this is K-pop after all, I use the term ‘rock’ very loosely here – it’s actually more of a pop-punk-fused-with-electro song, which may sound weird on paper, but it suits NU’EST just fine. All the members do a nice job with their respective vocal parts, and they even manage to fit a rap verse for JR in there. Ultimately, it might be a little blip in NU’EST’s usual electro-slash-R&B catalog, but it’s a fun and energetic opening track nonetheless.
Hello Hello is much closer to the NU’EST we all know. Featuring a prominent dance sound, this song is full of bumping synth and has a simple-yet-catchy chorus that every dance floor anthem strives for. Though this song is upbeat and has pretty well-executed rap verses, it doesn’t have the immediate pull of a single, though I predict it could serve as a very effective promotional track alongside the main single (which we’ll get to in a bit). A nice little ditty that’s just my style.
Oh, the ever-present, ever-faceless “noona”. Who is she? And why does every male K-pop idol want a chance to court her? NU’EST take a crack at the noona craze on 너네 누나 소개시켜줘 (The Girl Next Door) (Neone nuna sogaeshikyeojwo; Introduce Me to Your Noona). Keeping it 100 with you guys, this song is probably one of the silliest I’ve heard in a really long time. The chorus is giggle-inducing to the point of mockery (“I wanna noona, I wanna know your noona“) and the bubbly R&B sound just makes it sound kind of ridiculous. But in typical NU’EST style, they make it sound very sincere, and I appreciate that from them. Although this isn’t exactly the most mature song in NU’EST’s repertoire, it is charming in its own funny way.
여보세요 (Hello) is the lead single off this mini album, and let me tell you, I had no idea NU’EST could be so smooth. We’re used to hearing them sing aggressive electro songs with surprise dubstep breakdowns, but R&B is a genre they heretofore only dabbled in on their album tracks. Now that’s changed, and I’m wondering why they didn’t take this route sooner. Baekho and Minhyun have the vocal capability to carry a slower, more soulful arrangement, and JR and Aron more or less hold down the fort on the rap front. Ren gets a fairly sizable portion of the solos considering he’s probably the weakest singer in the group, but he holds his own as well, and it’s all held together by a relaxing piano-infused instrumental. I must say, I’m still surprised that NU’EST made such a huge change in direction from their previous singles, but I’m very glad they did! I’m looking forward to hearing future releases in this genre from them.
The final track, 조금만 (A Little Bit More) [feat. Yoon Han] (Jogeumman; Just a Little) is basically your typical K-pop ballad, and we all know how I feel about these. BUT I tried my very best to give it a chance before writing it off, and fortunately it wasn’t all that bad. I’m still not a fan of the twinkling synths and dramatic strings, but the vocals were good enough, so all in all it was pretty fair. I wish they’d put a more upbeat song in its place to close the album, though.
Summary: My favorite rookies are back! I fell for NU’EST’s quirky “urban electro” sound, and though they haven’t abandoned it completely, I’m happy to see them moving in a more sophisticated, mature direction with 여보세요 (Hello). They may be young boys yet, but it’s never too early to start polishing up your look and sound, and with this release they seem to have that down pat. Other songs on the album, namely Hello Hello and Beautiful Solo, remind us that NU’EST are still young and fun, and that’s cool too. Overall, I’ve been waiting for this comeback for a while, and it didn’t disappoint!
Album Grade: A
여보세요 (Hello) | Hello Hello | Beautiful Solo | 너네 누나 소개시켜줘 (The Girl Next Door)