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reviewer: IATFB

It’s been eight years since CNBLUE made their debut. After so long, it’s got to be hard to keep new material fresh. I imagine that rock groups find it particularly difficult, as the k-pop world affords them a smaller selection of concepts compared to their more performance-based peers. And as much as I have enjoyed CNBLUE’s past few singles, I worried that their music was getting a bit bland. They’ve always veered much closer to soft rock than label-mates FTIsland, and there’s really only so much you can do with that genre.

Luckily, new single Between Us (헷갈리게) offers a jolt of experimentation just when the band needed it most. CNBLUE has incorporated a more electronic sound before, but Between Us seamlessly weaves it into their existing style in a way that feels complimentary to the group’s identity. The song opens in dizzying form, as the first half of its punchy chorus crashes in. Initially, its lurching rhythm turned me off. It seemed as if this was the group’s attempt at emulating the glitchy tempo changes that made recent releases from groups like GOT7 and Victon so frustrating. But set against a guitar-rock backdrop, the rhythmic shifts work well.

With that said, the song’s absolute standout moment is during the second full chorus. The beat kicks in double time, lending a ferocious drive of energy that hints at just how soaring the track could have been if CNBLUE had stuck with this all-out production assault. When the instrumentation pulls back afterward, it’s a bit of a buzzkill. Fortunately, Between Us‘s verses do a solid job building momentum with their anthemic, guitar-chugging arrangement and assured performance by frontman Yonghwa. Like most groups of their age, CNBLUE is likely past their commercial peak. But Between Us is the best title track they’ve given us in quite some time.

씨엔블루가 데뷔한 지도 벌써 8년이 지났다. 그 정도로 오랜 시간이 지나면, 신곡을 계속해서 신선하게 유지하는 것이 쉬운 일은 아닐 것이다. 특히 락 그룹의 경우 이 시도는 어려운데, 케이팝 세계에서는 퍼포먼스 기반의 그룹에 비해 시도할 수 있는 컨셉의 폭이 좁기 때문이다. 씨엔블루의 최근 몇몇 싱글들을 즐겁게 듣긴 했지만, 그들의 음악이 살짝 평이해지는 것이 아닌가 하는 우려도 있었다. 같은 레이블 소속의 FT아일랜드에 비해 소프트 록에 가까웠고, 그 장르 내에서는 선택지가 딱히 많지 않기 때문이다.

다행히도, 이 밴드는 시기적절하게 새로운 싱글 '헷갈리게'에서 약간의 실험을 시도했다. 씨엔블루는 이전에도 일렉트로닉 사운드를 섞은 적이 있지만, '헷갈리게'에서는 특히나 밴드의 정체성을 향상시키는 방향으로 그들의 기존 스타일에 자연스럽게 엮어넣었다. 곡의 도입부는 강력한 후렴의 절반이 치고 들어오며 어지럽게 시작한다. 처음 들었을 때는 이리저리 오가는 리듬이 흥미를 반감시켰는데, GOT7이나 Victon등의 근작을 불만스럽게 만들었던 이상한 템포 변화를 모방하려는 듯 보였기 때문이다. 하지만 기타 기반의 락을 배경으로 깔자 이 리듬 변화가 잘 맞아들어갔다.

곡이 최고조로 뛰어난 순간은 두 번째로 나오는 온전한 후렴구 부분이다. 두 배로 강하게 치고 들어오는 비트는, 만약 이렇게 공격적인 프로덕션을 곡 전체로 밀어붙였더라면 얼마나 더 곡이 날아오를 수 있었을지 보여주는 격렬한 에너지의 질주다. 후에 반주가 뒤로 빠지는 부분은 흥을 살짝 깬다. 하지만 다행히 '헷갈리게'의 버스 (verse) 구간은 힘찬 기타 사운드의 편곡과 프론트맨 용화의 자신감 넘치는 기량으로 훌륭하게 탄력을 쌓아간다. 비슷한 연차의 다른 그룹들이 그렇듯 씨엔블루의 상업적 절정은 지났을 수도 있지만, '헷갈리게'는 한동안 내놓은 근작들 가운데 최고의 타이틀곡이다.

cr. http://www.asianjunkie.com/2017/03/21/cnblues-between-us-delievers-one-of-their-best-efforts-in-a-while/

  • anonymous 2017.03.22 11:02
    Well written review.
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 11:06
    번역이 예술이네요.
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 11:31
    Complimentary yet objective review! Between Us is a really good song though, almost criminal how little promotion it is getting!
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 11:47
    리뷰 좋으네요. 갠적으로 캔스탑 이후 한국 앨범 타이틀곡은 제 취향이 아니었는데 이번 헷갈리게는 들으면 들을수록 용화 목소리에 빠져 들어요. 평이한듯 보이나 결코 느슨하지 않고 보컬의 기교와 힘이 느껴진달까. 암튼 실력으로 인정 받는 정용화 정말 대단해요
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 13:44
    비슷한 연차의 다른 그룹들이 그렇듯 씨엔블루의 상업적 절정은 지났을 수도 있지만, '헷갈리게'는 한동안 내놓은 근작들 가운데 최고의 타이틀곡이다
    이부분 좋네요. 더 날아오르길 '헷갈리게'
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 17:29
    This is more of a critic than a review i guess. well in my opinion song writing has always a personal signature of the composer so in this case what was critizised to be a buzzkill itself is yh's signature. From the previous composition what i have noticed; the songs gives us a comfortable space in the rythm thats builds up the hype even at the very end of the song.

    For the example "in my head" where in the end he just pauses n very skillfully inserts some little 'thank yous' just for the fun of it
    and very evidently rewardes with louder screams the reaction awaited. So i think thats yong's own personal way of composing which is by the way one of the thing that i love about his songs "the unexepected surprise break in the rythm yet a very confortable change as it emerges perfectly well with song". The best example here would be "can't stop".

    As for the "past commercial peak" point, I wouldn't just give up hope just yet since yong is a very hard working talented young
    man, he will most certainly pull through this. And a well defined carreer is achieved when to learn to stay humble during your success and to stay strong during hardships. My wish for him is that he continues to do what he wants to do even if at times the world
    seems to work against him. To quote his own words "this shall pass too" , so we will stay 'young forever'.

    That said this is my very humble and a very subjective opinion.

    Thank you very much for all the efforts put in in translating the review.
  • anonymous 2017.03.22 19:24
    Somehow I agree, as Between us is one of my favorite Yonghwa's title track, equally liked as I'm sorry. But I think an album is not only made by the title track, so I would say all the last albums were solid, totally enjoyable to listen to and with different styles and feeling, which is only complimentary and a proven of their musical talent and writing skills.
    For this album, I like all songs written by Yonghwa, and I'm glad they included Royal Rumble as it was on of my favorite from their last year Euphoria album and more of that, it was totally awesome so heard it life, as Yonghwa put a lot of emotions in singing it...
    I hope they will achieve recognition in Korea as well, as it seems they are doing quite well in international charts!
    Good luck with the promotions!
  • anonymous 2017.03.23 00:38
    A very objective review and it's remarkable the reviewer calls out on the pulling back of instrumental in the middle. Cnblue never goes all-out with rock and for a band perfectly capable of doing so esp with YH having a genuinely rock voice, it could seem frustrating. For years on Cnblue have been trying to find that fine balance between band music and pop music, but other than with Can't Stop, they couldn't get there as evident by the sales numbers, both physical and digital. Before Can't Stop, they were in their commercial peak - with YH being everywhere in the kpop scene, and anything they released sold like hot cake. But that type of success cannot be sustained. What makes a band sustainable in the long run is building a strong and loyal fan base plus building up their own colour. But Cnblue has a long way to go in both aspects. They are talented enough. I hope they'd be daring enough too to challenge themselves and carve out their niche instead of catering to their money hungry management. The best song of this album is Royal Rumble. But I don't see it being promoted. It brings back painful memories of how Cold Love, arguably YH's best composition to date, was put in the back burner in favour of more public friendly Can't Stop. Cnblue has so much to offer and has had so many opportunities but they are ruined by bad management, short term goals and fandom issues.

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