BtoB return after 7 months with their 2nd full-length album, “Brother Act.”, named affectionately in tribute to the 1992 all-singing American film “Sister Act” (an excellent movie by the way). “Missing You” is the album’s title track, co-composed and co-written by members Hyunsik, Minhyuk, Ilhoon and Peniel.
- Prelude: A Day
- Missing You
The album begins with a soft and gentle piano introduction, which leads perfectly on to the refreshing and nostalgic pop ballad “Missing You”. BtoB’s vocal line shine on this song, bringing a sense of melancholy balanced by the rap line’s more energetic (or in Minhyuk’s case agitated) verses. A memorable chorus melody and light pop rock instrumentation help make the song one of the album’s highlights and deserving of the position of title track
3. My Lady
Continuing the fresh spring-like mood, “My Lady” features more piano-centred light band instrumentation and sentimental melodies sung by crowds; however, the song’s placement after “Missing You” means that it stands out less, especially given that the songs have similar vibes. Still, it’s a solid song and the “You’re my sunshine” hook is particularly memorable.
- Red Lie
Another highlight on the album, BtoB opt for a trendier futuristic sound on “Red Lie”; the song has EDM undertones whilst still being subtle and understated, with soft flute-like synths and acoustic guitar playing in contrast to an electronic beat and bass. A catchy melody hook and not overly in-your-face EDM instrumentation make the song one of my favourites on the album.
- Blowin’ Up
While some listeners might enjoy the club banger “Blowin’ Up”, personally I find it to be my least favourite song on the album. This might be because its loud and somewhat obnoxious EDM instrumentation is just too different to the vibe set out so far in the album – peaceful, sentimental and refreshing. The song itself is not bad and really quite reminiscent of Psy’s signature sound; in the context of the album, however, it just doesn’t work for me.
- Interlude: Brother Act.
A skit introduces the name and concept of the album, complete with BtoB’s characteristic jokes and banter. Given that variety is one of BtoB’s greatest strengths, it’s a wonder that skits haven’t played a bigger role in BtoB’s past albums; perhaps trying to emulate the success of the consistent skits on BTS’ albums?
Returning to the gentle pop acoustic sound of the first half of the album, “NANANA” shows off more of BtoB’s vocals; singing in a more old-fashioned style, the song is more whimsical and adopts a different rhythm, providing a welcome break from the more serious ballads thus far.
Speaking of serious ballads, the album moves quickly on to yet another emotional mid-tempo pop ballad with gentle acoustic band instrumentation, although the melody for “Dreaming” is admittedly beautiful. While the songs don’t necessarily sound samey, the album does seem to find it difficult to get off the ground and take the listener on a cohesive journey; since most of the album focuses on an inoffensive easy-listening sound, however, overall consistency would in fact not be a bad idea.
- Guitar (Stroke of Love)
Unfortunately, however, the album cannot seem to decide between going for either easy-listening consistency or constantly-surprising variety; “Guitar (Stroke of Love)” goes back to the fast electronic dance beat with a refrain that is just a bit too aggressive and belt-y for my taste – the intro and first verse are by far the strongest parts of the song in my opinion.
- Running Into Breakup
Opting for a slightly more modern RnB-influenced sound this time, “Running Into Breakup” is a more sophisticated and mature ballad, though “Missing You”, “My Lady” and “Dreaming” remain the better songs. The producing is tasteful, however, and the song makes for a relaxing listen as the album moves towards its end.
- Fly Away
Continuing with the more modern production, “Fly Away” starts with futuristic synths and goes into a powerful ballad-esque chorus perfect for an emotional stadium concert finale. The song is appropriately uplifting as a penultimate album track, but is not particularly memorable in itself; it does, however, lead perfectly into the actual concert finale song:
- Finale: Our Concert
Using the sounds-like-it-was-sung-by-a-crowd sound for the third time in the album, the final song is appropriately epic and emotional, using electric guitars and live drum sounds to capture a concert feeling. Given the similarity to the previous song, however, it seems superfluous to have included both; in addition, the song is rather cliché in terms of execution, borrowing tried-and-tested epic rock ballad techniques and offering little in the way of original musical content.
Overall, BtoB bring us a very listenable autumn album, full of sentimental melodies, smooth vocals and comfortingly familiar ballad instrumentation. The clean and refreshing quality of many of the songs actually give me more of a spring feeling rather than autumn; in any case, there are some great songs hidden in this album which show off BtoB’s musicality excellently. However, there are some weak tracks, and the album overall does not feel especially cohesive; the first half is in my opinion the better half, and the general flow of the album is somewhat erratic, suffering from both songs that are overly similar and songs that are too radically different. Nevertheless, the album is not bad at all, and the title track and BtoB themselves are especially deserving of their success of the release so far.
Review by Vivien