The newest addition to the solo debuts of 2012 is none other than BEAST‘s main vocalist, Yang Yoseob. As the group’s vocal pillar, especially during the choruses, it’s no surprise that he’s the member chosen for this individual endeavor. And he’s not alone. Fellow member Yong Junhyung takes part in the album as a producer and as a composer and lyricist, contributing to three of the five tracks of the mini-album, even featuring in the title track of “Caffeine.” This debut mini-album, entitled The First Collage, has a cover that promises intriguing content. But if it lives up to it remains to be seen.
The album starts off with “Look at Me Now,” which is one of the three songs in which Jun-hyung had input.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWBr1VCy68g&w=560&h=315]
As the first song, it’s a sweet beginning. The song is of wanting to turn friends into something more, regaling with all that he wants to do with the girl he likes. The song starts sweetly with acoustic guitar before growing into a piece with stronger beats. It’s not a hard party beat but more like preparation for that party. The hook of “look at me now” definitely sticks and is easy to sing along to. The transition back to acoustic guitar around 2:18 is welcome and adds some variation to the track. Overall, it makes for an easy, enjoyable listen. This song is on the verge of being similar to some of BEAST’s repertoire, but the happier tone overall keeps it from dipping too far in that direction.
Next is the the title track, “Caffeine,” which features Junhyung as a rapper and composer. The song seems to fit decently with “Look at Me Now” as the aftermath of the relationship. The two have broken up, but Yoseob can’t forget about she who he needs, much like caffeine. This song is solidly within BEAST’s territory, which is unfortunate as this is the title track. The acoustic guitar, sad tone, Junhyung, and general mood are reminiscent of some of the group’s strongest songs. As a title track, this does nothing to differentiate Yoseob from BEAST. Yo-seob’s voice has that delicate touch and talent that’s sufficient for the song, but his vocals lack stronger emotions that would have taken the song to another level.
Third in the lineup is “Just Do As You Always Did.” If you close your eyes and just listen without understanding the words, the song sounds fitting for the holidays, even starting and ending with what may be a carol. But a look at the lyrics reveals a sad parting of what seems to be lovers. The day is their last together. It’s a mutual parting with sadness on both sides. The music as a whole is nothing special, just the type of music you’d have on just to have something playing as you focus on something else. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not great either.
“Even Then I” claims the fourth spot of the mini-album. With this song, everything slows down, and we say hello to Yoseob’s falsetto. The lyrics speak of yet another parting, one where the male feels a bit hurt by the breakup. He reminds her that she’s better off without him as he lets himself suffer only out of her sight. It’s a slow and smooth jazzy piece that let’s Yoseob show off some expression as the brass in the music does its thing. The piece has slow swells and arrives at an appropriate softer high point as to not abruptly change the song’s style. The track comes close to letting Yo-seob really use his voice well, but falls a tad short of utilizing the full arsenal of emotion that he does have.
Last of the songs and the last of which Jun-hyung participated in is “You Don’t Know.”[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATrN8I-jAjk&w=560&h=315]
And we’re back to the excitement of the first song and to loving someone that doesn’t know how you feel about them. Except in this case, it’s a love from afar. If “Look at Me Now” started the album off to an upbeat start, then “You Don’t Know” closes it with yet another upbeat track. It’s one of the better songs with its slightly muted beat and array of interesting sounds like the sets of high pitched sounds in the chorus. It’s a good treat to end the album on a pleasant note.
If there was one word to describe this mini-album, it would be, as this review’s title indicates, underwhelming. While Yoseob’s voice may not please all, he definitely possesses the talent to emote well and reach a decent range of notes. Just listen to his rendition of Ra.D‘s “Mom” from when he was on Immortal Song 2. But none of these tracks used that ability well and showcased it as a debut solo album should. The songs feel as if they were sung technically correct and with manufactured emotions rather than genuine expression. Heck, Yoseob sounds several times more genuine in his parts in BEAST songs than he does here. The album is safe, but with Yo-seob’s ability, why settle at safe? As a result, these songs probably could have been given to any main vocalist with decent results.
That being said, the songs on this album aren’t bad. They all move at decent paces, flow decently, and Yoseob’s vocals comfortably reach all notes. The first and last of the songs the better two of the five and are two that deviate the most from BEAST’s usual fare. The mini gets a decent 3.6/5 from me.
Did Yoseob’s solo debut tickle your fancy? Did The First Collage live up to your expectations?
(Cube Entertainment, xxTiyaxx, ForeverSHINeeGirl)