20131009_seoulbeats_boys_republicI must confess that I hadn’t listened to Boys Republic before stumbling upon their intro MV.  The mini music video is nothing special, but something about the song caught my ear and I ended up listening to the rest of the album. Although I liked some songs, the mini-album overall is a dud.

Boys Republic debuted earlier this year with a fairly good song and image. Had they kept that, they might have reached moderate success. However, Identity is a step in another direction (and not in the right one) and may indicate that their company, Universal Music Group is searching for something more.

The problem with Identity is that Boys Republic don’t have an identity. They try out different styles of music — often in the same song — but it is not coherent and frankly, sounds like a mess.

“I’m Ready,” the intro track, is what first got me interested in Boys Republic and is also the best track on the mini-album. The continual build-up of the song is what grabbed my attention but I also liked the subdued mix of dubstep that later entered the song. Their voices are delicately smooth and the lightly layered harmonization is great too. The positive message also added to my enjoyment and to those of you with mid-terms coming up, “No matter what, you can do it!”

20131008_seoulbeats_boysrepublic_identityOkay, that was lame but not as lame as the next song, “You Are Special To Me.” This song tries to be too many things at once. It starts off with a great guitar solo that sets the scene for an edgy rock sound. Unfortunately, “You Are Special To Me” loses focus after that. It has a really promising beginning but quickly becomes too shouty and then randomly switches to a cuter, sweet song; the contrast is jarring.

While I enjoyed Boys Republic’s voices in the rock section of “You Are Special To Me,” their voices seem to suit the cute part much better. In fact, I think Boys Republic could adopt a cute concept and make it work, based on their voices and visuals. This isn’t to say that they can’t do an edgier concept, but rather that if I had to choose between the “rock” and “pop,” I would push them more towards the “pop.”

“What Up” is another mess but this song devolved much faster than “You Are Special To Me.” The beginning immediately excited me with its hip-hop vibe but my excitement began to die after just 10 seconds. I truly lament the wasted background music because the beat is great. Their singing, on the other hand, is not so great. Aside from the chorus, I’m not sure if I can even call it singing. It’s more of a talk-sing kind of thing. And don’t even get me started on the lackluster “rap.” The chorus is the only redeemable thing about this song and even then it’s nothing special.

“L.I.U.” could have been the song to save Identity but it just barely missed the mark. The retro influence and light tone throughout the song make it enjoyable and the chorus is sweet and catchy. At first, I didn’t like the whispered verses but they grew on me after a second listen. “L.I.U.” matches their voices and if Boys Republic adopted a retro concept, it would definitely work for them. However, “L.I.U.” is lacking that “oomph” that other retro songs carry. While this song is pleasant, it doesn’t grab your attention and get your body moving.

20130619_seoulbeats_boysrepublic3Identity was a huge disappointment to me because of its lack of focus. Boys Republic have nice voices but their material sucks. When your intro track is the best song on the album, it means only one of two things — either the intro is that amazing or the rest of the album is pitiful. It’s not that hard to decide which category Boys Republic’s Identity falls into.

And that’s the crux of the issue. Boys Republic has no identity and that can’t be blamed on the fact that they are rookies. It’s something that their company, Universal Music Group, should be blamed for. Simply giving a group good music — which is not the case with this mini-album — is not enough. Plenty of ‘good’ artists fall to the wayside because they’re not memorable. Unless Boys Republic makes a change soon, they will end up as a nugu group lost amidst endless debuts.

Score: 2/5

(Universal Music Group, YouTube [1])