Nov 17, 2016

The Revival of B.A.P And "Skydive"

Whenever B.A.P makes a comeback I'm always unsure of what I will think of it, especially since their post-law suit return to the K-pop scene. When B.A.P debuted in 2012 they took everyone by storm by bringing something new to the scene, and they had a dark, powerful and aggressive style that combined with fierce clothing and choreography made them stand out. They did have some lighter follow-up releases in between which I didn't really thought suited them at all, but their main concept and sound was always the heavier and darker one.

Their final comeback before the law suit with full album "First Sensibility" had a great title track but the rest of the songs were disappointing, and since then I haven't really been into any of their albums or comebacks. I did like "Young, Wild & Free" as their grand return but it hasn't been a frequently played song and the mini album was just ok. The following comebacks both were both lighter, happier and with brighter songs and I although both of them are ok tracks I'm not into that kind of musical direction for this group.

Especially with "That's My Jam" as I didn't even listen to the song twice nor watched any of the live stages. Although their spot as a favorite group of mine had started to fade since almost two years back it seemed like now it was completely gone. It's always sad loosing interest in a group you once truly loved, but you can't force yourself to keep on liking them if they consistently release underwhelming music.

That's why with this comeback I am feeling especially emotional, because after a way too long time I am finally seeing the B.A.P I once fell in love with. "Skydive" really is a treat for us long-time fans who've been there since the beginning, as it is almost everything that made B.A.P so great to begin with. I suppose you could call the song and video "One Shot" 2.0 as there are many similarities between both the style of the music and the concept for the video, but that's a good thing. "One Shot" is probably the best release that this group has come out with, in my opinion, and to me this feels like reliving B.A.P at their peak which is just amazing. The song is powerful, intense and epic, just like what this group released in their early days, but it doesn't feel dated at all. Instead it's like a revival of all things that made me fall in love with this group in the first place and presented in a even more refined and mature way.

As mentioned earlier the MV for "Skydive" bears many similarities to "One Shot", but it's even more complex as well as being about a hundred times more bloody. I don't think it was necessary for it to be 10 minutes long, but I appreciate that they wanted to go all the way with it. That being said it isn't the most realistically made "mini-movie" and some of the effects are way to obviously fake, and some moments in the video are a bit too cringeworthy for my personal taste. Some members' acting skills aren't spectacular and not everyone can pull off blowing someone's brains out, but that's part of the charm as well and always has been with B.A.P and their older concepts.

Like with the video for "One Shot" the boys are part of a shady gang that are up to no good business, and the main character that Daehyun plays is on a mission to find a woman that's been kidnapped (presumably a woman he cares deeply for), but something's not quite right. There seems to be a traitor among them and none of the members can be completely trusted. In the end it's revealed to be Jongup that has had them all fooled, that being after a bloody shoot-out has taken place which (once again) has left the rest of them dead.

All throughout the video you can both follow Daehyun as he pursues his mission as well as flashback scenes with all the members, and it's definitely intriguing to try and guess who the traitor might be. Like I said before the video isn't the best action MV ever made but I wasn't really expecting it to be either. What warms my heart the most is that this video is so B.A.P in the way that I got to know them back in 2012, and this is exactly what I think they should be doing.

The album is called "Noir" and it is their second full length album, and like I said before I didn't have high expectations for it or the comeback in general considering my feelings for their most recent work. However I still decided to give the album a listen since I liked the title track and MV so much, and boy am I glad I did. This is probably B.A.P's strongest album to date, and I can't express how happy it makes me to finally remember why I liked this group so much to begin with. It is a revival indeed, a revival of this group and their music and also their spot in my heart, which has started to grow again after a period of fading. I think that I, as a disappointed fan, needed this to know that they still have it in them and that I didn't stan them for nothing back in the day.

"Noir" is packed with different kinds of songs in somewhat varying styles, but there is still a nice cohesiveness to it and I love that there are so many darker sounding tracks. Apart from the title there is "Ribbon In The Sky", which is probably my favorite track as well as "Confession" which is Zelo and Yongguk's rap track. Both of them are really dark and heavy tracks with a sound that's right up my alley. There are also some softer songs, like "Killer", "Walk" and "I Guess I Need You", that are more chill and with lighter instrumentals, but contrary to some of B.A.P's earlier tracks within the same musical genre these ones aren't boring.

One of my main problem with "First Sensibility" was that there were so many of these kind of songs and none of them were really that great, as in they lacked originality and had forgettable melodies. This isn't the case here as those songs have fantastic melodies as well as a mature approach and stunning vocal work. You can really tell how much this group has grown musically, and I suppose with that I mean mostly Yongguk, who's in charge of most of the material. The only song I'm not feeling on "Noir" is "Chiquita", both because I don't think its funky sound fits in with the rest of the album but also because it's not my kind of music. Otherwise I love almost every track and I'm especially proud of Jongup and the fact that he gets a solo all to himself, and I think I must've missed something because when did he get this good at singing? He's definitely the one that's been standing out the most to me this comeback, both with his improved vocals but also his dancing, stage presence and acting in the MV.

I don't think I need to summarize much because my feelings have been quite clearly put on the table in this review. B.A.P have proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with for real and redeemed themselves from underwhelming past work, and now my only wish is for them to continue in this direction. I'm not asking for them to always be this dark and gritty but I don't want to see another 180 degree switch to a concept that makes you question if it's even the same group.

It is possible to evolve musically and conceptually without losing ones identity. Other groups have done it and I'm sure B.A.P can do it too. Whatever happens in the future I'm happy for what they've given us here and now, and I hope that Yongguk will get better soon so that he can join the boys on stage.

MV: 3,9/5
Album: 4,4/5

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