U-KISS has been through a bumpy road, but as far as their musical progression is concerned, its surely one of the most established in K-Pop. They had a number of minor hits in the past with their former go-to producer, Brave Brothers, but therein lies the problem. They didnt sound any different from the other boy bands at their time. It wasnt until their commitment with Marcan Entertainment that UKISS really defined its sound and image.
U-KISS returns to the K-Pop scene with funky rock-tingled track, DORADORA, a production by Kim Hyung Seok. If you guys dont know who he is, hes a respected producer responsible for hits for Kim Gun Mo, Baby VOX, Insooni and even J.Y. Park. Here, we have some influences of electronica and dubstep, but its tastefully done. The blippy synths dont distract the listener from enjoying the smooth and sensual feel of the track. The only thing that might disinterest DORADORAs listeners is that it strays from the usual pop formula that U-KISS and most K-Pop artists tend to abide by. A composition by a less contemporary musician might be the cost of having a less-trendy track, but making bold choices is something rare in K-Pop (especially when it comes to title songs) and its certainly more rewarding for an artist/group.
Another star collaboration we hear on this album is U-KISS and Jay Park with 4U. Its an interesting blend of 90s club beats and light synth layering, giving the song a sharp dance beat, but yet a sweet sound many U-KISS lady listeners will fancy. U-KISS is no stranger to American influences in their music so 4U sits nicely with the rest of their songs.
Amazing is the next noteworthy track on DORADORA. Many fans will point out that U-KISS member, AJ, co-produced this track. This could have been a decent single, but personally, Amazing fares better as a strong album track, strengthening the quality of the album as a whole. Theres not much to say here besides the usual side-chained bass on a fast paced common time beat, but the fact that its the song that sounds the most like U-KISS prior to Neverland, brings a lot of attention to the track.
For those who are familiar with the groups recent expedition to the Japanese market, you guys will already know this one. TICK TOCK (Out of Time) is pretty much an upgraded Neverland. Im a little against having clocks ticking and rain drizzling in K-Pop now since its been beat to death, but the track is so catchy and enjoyable, its forgivable. Unlike many of their other tracks, this tracks chorus opens with complete English lines, which is interesting, but in a way, its also sort of distracting. You can either take pieces of English phrases to convey your Korean lyrics better like most good K-Pop songs, or keep it all in English like 2NE1s Ugly. Singing half of it straight through in English and then all the sudden with a line Korean like in TICK TOCK will probably throw most listeners off. TICK TOCK, like Neverland, is loud and hook heavy. They both sort of have this snowball effect where the track starts steady and melodically, but releases an outburst of energy once the chorus hits. Now when I said that TICK TOCK is like an upgraded Neverland, I meant it as a good thing. One thing I really admire about pop producers is when they develop a distinct, yet practical formula that works exclusively for an artist. SHINee has one that can be heard in Sherlock and Lucifer, and UKISS has one that in Neverland and TICK TOCK. Its this formula that helps us identify that this is a U-KISS song, and its something more K-Pop bands should take note of.
U-KISS is experimenting with new sounds, and to be honest, this time around, the band took this reviewer by surprise. Too often, we hear K-Pop bands stuck on a sound once they find some success in it, but its clear U-KISS learned from its mistakes. They suffered enough from their catchy-but-basic string of Brave Brothers singles. Seeing that they just missed winning that Mutizen over KARA with Neverland, it seemed only natural that they release a better version of it (aka TICKTOCK) in Korea the second time around. However, by using DORADORA as their title track, that is exactly what they didnt do.
DORADORA (album) is a combination of a safe pop sound as well as an experimental one, but with Ryan Jhun playing executive producer for UKISS, were handed one solid, consistent and interesting mini album. Even if U-KISS doesnt win a Mutizen this time around, they shouldnt be too bothered, as theyve already shown their quality as artists by taking on risks.
Reviewer's Rating: [PIC] [PIC] [PIC] [PIC] (4.1 / 5)