MBLAQ average on ‘Love Beat’
MBLAQ has released its fifth album, “Love Beat,” with a whole new concept that drifts away from its usual bad boy flair. The group has gone for the charming, boy-next-door concept with tracks that may appeal to tween fans, but overall the album lacks a depth, meaning more mature listeners are likely to be disappointed.
“No Love” has a classic boy band sound with a bright piano melody led by a steady beat and a layered chorus. “I Don’t Know” is a song about reminiscing over a past lover and can be described as a standard pop song with standard sappy lyrics. “Celebrate” is a run-of-the-mill ballad that lacks highs and lows in tone as well as beat, making for a monotonous sound.
However, there are a few gems in the album, including “Sexy Beat,” which is a surprisingly complex track of different segments, an interesting blend of electronic dance, funk, and R&B. The track features a distinct club beat mixed with jazzy guitar riffs. “R U OK?” is an R&B number with an old-school funky blues guitar line that can be compared to “Pray,” also an R&B number but lacking the depth and soul of “R U OK?”
MBLAQ’s “Love Beat” is not a standout amongst the other pop albums in the market but nonetheless, the album can serve as a simple end-of-summer listen.
By Cha Yo-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)Ciara still searching
The lead single from Ciara’s self-titled fifth album, “Body Party,” is an oozing, seductive R&B track that deserves rousing applause -- especially when the 27-year-old matches the song with daring and sensual dance moves that scream Janet Jackson, Aaliyah and others that have come before her, as seen at the recent BET Awards.
The bedroom groove is easily the best of the 11 tracks that make up “Ciara.” There are others that shine, too: The bouncy “Livin’ It Up,” one of two songs to feature Nicki Minaj, has an empowering feel; the mid-tempo “Read My Lips” is appealing and Ciara’s sweet tone rides nicely over the semi-electronic beat of “Overdose.”
Still, the album doesn’t feel special. While it’s much better than her last two releases -- the weak “Fantasy Ride” and the subpar “Basic Instinct” -- the album is made up of fillers that have you still wondering what kind of singer Ciara is.
Like her past records, “Ciara” isn’t cohesive, and instead, sporadic -- some hits here, satisfactory work there, but overall, mediocrity reigns. (AP)Sara Bareilles shines on ‘Blessed Unrest’
“The Blessed Unrest”
There’s a sweet way Sara Bareilles sings about her breakup on her new album. She’s soft on the honeyed, piano pop gems that make up “The Blessed Unrest,” her voice is solid and her lyrics are strong.
On “Hercules,” Bareilles is tough, singing passionate lines like: “This is my darkest hour, a long road has led me out here, but I only need turn around to face the light, and decide flight or fight.”
Bareilles knows how to craft a great song. She doesn’t rely on hooks to grab you in; it’s her lyrics -- and that rich tone in her voice she lets out near the song’s end. “Manhattan” is a slow classic and “Satellite Call” is layered with sounds and vocals, coming off like a Coldplay and OneRepublic mashup.
While Bareilles is getting over love on the 12-track set, she isn’t down and out the entire time: “I Choose You,” a beautiful song about falling in love, could make anyone’s irritating day better. And on the lead single, “Brave,” she’s encouraging a friend to come out of the closet: “Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly I want to see you be brave.” (AP)