After a year and half, NCT 127 came back with their 3rd Album, “Sticker.” I had high hopes for this album, especially since I still haven’t gotten over “Neozone.” “Sticker” demonstrates the growth of the group’s vocal maturity and artistry. Each song is uniquely “SM” (for SM Entertainment). It’s a sound that I can only describe as “lush.” Yet 127 adds their own flair with their unique powerhouse vocals, fresh rapping and energy. Each song is performance-worthy and the album offers something for everyone.
Sticker (Title Track)
Let’s start off with the most controversial track…
I think that watching the music video as an introduction to this song caught me off guard. I have to admit, I was distracted by the visuals, combined with the sound effects and the “unique” flute sound. It was sensory overload!
The track sounds like a few songs put together (typical of SM). After I put on my earbuds and listened to the actual track without distractions, I was able to ride the beat and my mind was blown.
Do not listen to this song with just one earbud in. Put on both headphones and surround-sound and listen to this song — the production is impeccable. The play between left and right channels will make your brain dance starting with the “Sticker tagging tagging tagging” in the left channel while the right channel has the “tongue rolling” ad-lib. Some may think that the effects to the vocal tracks might be off-putting, but I think it adds to the flavor of the song.
The song features a flute that is reminiscent of a Western film’s stand-off with a Latin jazz groove and a consistent whirly bass. The group’s vocals were highlighted with the rich harmonies, runs, and ad-libs, and the chorus will make sense out of that “flute sound.” Once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it.
“Sticker” is uniquely NCT 127. It is daring, impactful and gets even better the more you listen to it.
This track could have arguably been a safe choice for a title track — but 127 does not play by the rules. It’s somewhat of a diss track so it wouldn’t be appropriate for a title (however, it’s usually performed along with Sticker). The bouncy, 808-laced bass line makes you want to dance. The song is highlighted by sultry rap verses contrasted by punchy and rhythmic verses, fresh vocals, harmonies layered over rap lines, and the group’s signature “chants.” You won’t be able to get “tastes like lemonade” out of your head.
Breakfast is the album’s “club dance” track. I’m typically not a fan of these types of songs but the unique modulations and futuristic harmonies makes me think twice before hitting the “skip” button. The disco track keeps building throughout the song, with fun synths and a horn section. Lyrics-wise, let’s just say it’s PG (and thank goodness it’s mostly in Korean). It’s unassumingly one of those kinds of anthems. Not surprising for NCT 127 – but what else are you going to expect with a title like “Breakfast.”
Focus is a very “chill” R&B song that highlights the group’s angelic vocals and displays the maturity of the group. The airy verses are heart-fluttering and the simple beat accentuated by the late-80’s synth “plink” sound and electric guitar sliding in and out elevates the song from being a basic low-fi chill hop to something really special. It’s the kind of song that you want to listen to, sitting outside on a cool night, sipping a glass of wine with someone you love.
The Rainy Night
The Rainy Night highlights the prowess of the group’s vocal line. Each vocalist delivers their line with so much emotion — there’s no doubt that this group has some of the best vocalists in the industry. The song itself sounds like it’s straight out of a drama soundtrack. You can just imagine the two leads separated from each other, staring out of their windows with longing and regret, watching raindrops draw lines down the window pane. The song is simply beautiful.
Far is what I’d call a motivational track. It gives off somewhat of a nostalgic feel. It has a crunchy bass line and a driving beat with a poppy synth that plays throughout the track. The verses feel slightly held back, but the chorus picks up and of course the amazing vocals lend so much to the song. This song will have to grow on me. It’s a good transition song to Bring the Noize.
Bring the Noize
Add this one to NCT 127’s hype songs. Actually, it’s more of a flex, referencing to the group’s influence of “noise” music in the K-Pop scene and boy, is this track “noisy!” The track mixes industrial and race-car sounds with a deep bass and aggressive rapping. Of course, you add in NCT’s chants and you can’t help but go “grrah!” Some of the rap parts are doubled an octave higher which gives it a playful sound. Even the dissonance of some parts make everything so musical. The track ends so abruptly, I felt abandoned.
Magic Carpet Ride
I am a sucker for these types of songs. 90’s R&B plays in the soundtrack of my youth. It’s no surprise that this is one of my favorites since it’s composed by Harvey Mason Jr. who worked with artists like K-Ci & JoJo, Joe, and Toni Braxton to name just a few. The song opens with a Rhodes keyboard followed by honey-like vocals. Everything about this ballad is perfect – the rapping, the harmonies, ad-libs, runs and rich production. It’s like a modern-day Boyz II Men song.
“Road Trip” can be seen as an innocent precursor to “Highway to Heaven” (the English version, if you know what I mean). It’s a comfort song — even the rappers of the group are singing. The track is boppy, fresh, lighthearted, and fun. It’s something to sing along to around a campfire (after you’ve learned a little Korean, of course).
Dreamer is another playful track that has a little touch of funk. If you’re familiar with the NeoZone album, this song and Elevator 127 sit at the same table. (It might be purposeful since there is an elevator reference in the song). The song itself sounds like it could be the theme song of an 80’s sitcom… like an updated Punky Brewster.
Promise You is a track that’s dedicated to the fans. It’s very heavy on the 80’s synth and makes you long for those “good times… good times…” The harmonies are beautiful as well as the ad-libs. It’s such a feel-good song that it would fit well in an ending scene of an 80’s teen movie.
As you might have noticed (based on the products in my store) I’m a huge fan of this group and NCT (including WayV) in general. For those who don’t know about K-Pop or want to hear a sample of the music, I always recommend NCT 127 because of the diversity in their discography. Their albums are so dynamic that you won’t get tired of “one sound.” The vocals and rapping from this group are top-tier — not to mention their performances are always fun to watch.