Beast have been back for a few weeks with their new album ‘Highlight’. Sadly I don’t have time at the moment to do a track by track review of Highlight because I have a long list of reviews on my hands, so I’m trying to limit the amount of Album Reviews I’m doing lately. However, I couldn’t disregard their two releases.
A bit of a backstory here for those not well versed with Beast. ‘Highlight’ is their third full-length album, but the first release since the departure of member Hyunseung. This album was a sign for a fresh start and with 4Minute disbanding, CUBE Entertainment really needed this album to be a big hit. I am reviewing the songs below as someone who has also heard the whole album more than once because I feel that listening to the album influences the perception of these songs (explained at the bottom of this post).
‘Butterfly’ came out three weeks ago and the first thing that struck me was the vibrant MV. The minute you see Junhyung on the screen sitting amongst blue and purple bouquets, you know its going to be captivating. It took me a little while to adjust to ‘Butterfly’ but it is now possibly in my top three favourite ballad songs of this year. Beast are lucky to have been blessed with strong vocals – all five of them. The emotion in this song is strengthened by the gentle and subtle tones in their voices and excellent musical pacing throughout. It is not a song I was expecting them to release in the summer, but I think Beast do ballads so well that they couldn’t hold this one back. The key change at the end is my favourite part of the track itself – I feel that it gives the group the chance to show off each of their vocal abilities. I can’t quite get over the passion in Dongwoon’s vocals and how angelic Yoseob (always) sounds. When you listen to this song, I am certain you will feel that same calming influence wash over you – a big contrast to the other summer songs out at the moment.
My verdict: 8/10 – Don’t get me wrong, I actually probably like this song more than a 8, however I think I would have scored higher for me were it released in the Spring. A down-tempo ballad was not what I was expecting for Beast’s first release of the comeback. A powerful and emotive track nonetheless.
A week after ‘Butterfly’, Beast released ‘Ribbon’. This midtempo ballad was completely not what I was expecting, especially after ‘Butterfly’, as I had expected at least one uptempo/dance track in their comeback. Nonetheless, this is a strong title track – I think their vocals hang well throughout the arrangement and the strings add an interesting edge to the melody. As you may know, I am a huge fan of Junhyung’s tone, so for him to rap the verses in their entirety was a complete treat. The MV is dark and moody (and almost scary at times – I mean…. the hand coming out of the locker???) and this is definitely Beast’s darkest comeback song yet.
My verdict: 6/10 – This isn’t my favourite release from Beast but I still think it has its selling points, the vocal strength is incredible as always and I adore Yoseob’s falsetto in this. However, personally I felt that as the title track for their comeback, there are other songs on the album that I would have liked to have seen promoted over this one.
I mentioned above that listening to the whole album influenced my perception of these two particular songs and I do find this to be true. I think it is difficult to understand why Beast released these two songs as their comeback tracks until you listen to ‘Highlight’. Once you do, you will understand that the whole album is rather slow paced and down-tempo (with the exception of a few songs, e.g. ‘Highlight’ and ‘Baby It’s You’). It is a mature sound from Beast and one that I actually wholeheartedly support. I have listened to this album a number of times whilst completing projects at work and it is one of those song collections that creates a calm and focused ambience which I personally feel suits Beast’s character at the moment. My first reaction upon listening to the other album tracks was ‘Oh wow – ok this album is really good?!’ and I think it is a shame that I was surprised, but I feel like the songs they chose as their releases were not really representative of the tracks hiding on the rest of the album. I am a big fan of ‘Practice’ and ‘Come Out [Yoseob’s solo]’. I was concerned that with their choice of releases in ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Ribbon’, they wouldn’t be able to stand up next to the artists that are releasing Pop, Dance, EDM summer tracks, but I am glad that ‘Highlight’ is receiving good praise as it won 1st place in the Album Charts. I do think ‘Highlight’ on the whole is a great album – I just wonder if summer was the right time to make a ballad comeback?