November 27, 2018 NCT 127 – NCT #127 Regulate (Album Review)
SM Entertainment has always pumped out some of the most popular Korean Pop groups in the world. Super Junior, SHINee, Red Velvet, EXO, and now, NCT. NCT, consisting of over several sub units, including NCT Dream, NCT 127, NCT 2018, and NCT U, and a seemingly never-ending, ever-changing line up of new singers, rappers, and dancers. However, NCT 127 has been making large waves stateside since they debuted back in July of 2016. Being the first ever K-pop group to nab the Apple Music “Up Next” artist for this month, as well as appearing on Jimmy Kimmel, Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, and walking the red carpet at the AMA’s they have quickly risen in popularity and the charts.
NCT 127, being the one unit that has most consistently put out content, have not only released their first full-length album, NCT #127 Regular-Irregular, back on October 12th, but they have now released a repackaged version, NCT #127 Regulate on Friday, November 23rd. Currently consisting of Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Winwin, Mark, Haechan, as well as Jungwoo, who are all vastly talented in singing, rapping, along with dancing, the word “currently” is used due to SM Entertainment switching in and out new members regularly of the other sub-units.
This new album, NCT #127 Regulate, consists of fourteen songs, three of which are new for the repackaging. Kicking off the album is “City 127,” consisting of a simple backbeat of piano, bass drum, maybe even a tambourine, clapping, and snapping, giving off a very relaxed R&B vibe.
It is a nice start to the album, showing off their talents vocally to preemptively get listeners hyped for what the rest of the album has to offer. “Regular,” which was the title-track for the original package. NCT #127 Regular-Irregular, follows with the new popular Latin Trap sound. The song itself is a power move. Talking about how hard they work, how far they have climbed, and how they do not plan to ever stop their hustle. Additionally, at the end of this album, they also offer a fully English version of this song, which is even a larger flex with lyrics like, “iced out both my wrists now I can barely see the time.”
Then there is “Replay (PM 01:27),” which is the new wave of Techno ballads. Starting off slow, again focusing strongly on the vocals, building, it finally bursts into a unhurried tempo club mix, that although might break your heart, also will ignite a burning desire to dance. Trying to make up for breaking the hearts of listeners is “Welcome to My Playground,” a song as childishly fun as the playground insinuated in the title.
Going into a Blackbear and Mike Posner kind of sound, “Knock on” yet again slows down the tempo but the vibe is very arousing, and, well, sexual. While the lyrics are very playful and flirty when one combines the lyrics with the slow sensual sound, it becomes a whole new ball game. This is before “No Longer” hits a ballad in its face and NCT 127 makes it theirs. The six main vocalists take a slow, angelic, and powerful leap that can make anyone melt. Combine it with the piano and they have made a song that feels more heartfelt than any other on the album.
Underground Trap-Rap takes over with the four main rappers of the group for the next track, “My Van.” Some of the warped vocals, and even the backbeat, make it sound like an acid trip. Furthermore, the “Interlude: Regular to Irregular” is spoken word placed a top a melancholy violin and piano. In it, Jungwoo, Yuta, WinWin, and Johnny not only speak Korean, but also Japanese, Mandarin, and English, discussing their lives becoming NCT and then back to a solid minute of warping sounds that build into a beat to start the next half of the album.
“Simon Says” is the title-track for the repackaging, taking a totally different sound from the Latin Trap to go Caribbean Trap? If that is not a thing yet, it is now. They use a steel drum as well as a drum pad to mix a fun dance beat backed by yet again solid rapping and vocals. “Come Back,” as the name insinuates, most likely not intentionally, kicks off like an old school ’90s Pop song. Additional highlights include the bonus cut “Run Back 2 U” which wraps up the album perfectly. It somehow is able to put all the different genres they offered throughout the whole album and bring it together for the finale. Sounding similar to another K-pop group, WANNAONE, they offer a EMD beat breakdown in the middle, but what makes them different is NCT 127 has a much stronger rap line who take the song to a whole other level.
NCT 127 has consistently put out solid tracks since they debuted in 2016, and for the most part, they have followed a similar musical path. While they every so often deviate, that does not mean they have faltered. They have tried new sounds and have found what works best for them. With NCT#127 Regulate they cover all bases of emotions, sounds, and the Trap, Rap, as well as Pop genres, and it is a work of art. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.