20150313_seoulbeats_super junior_dne2In the midst of a plethora of solos, SM Entertainment has allowed one of their sub-units to return: Super Junior D&E. Good buddies – and one of the biggest Super Junior OTPs – Donghae and Eunhyuk have once again released music as a duo, this time in the form of the album, The Beat Goes On.

Despite performing it at music shows, it’s fortunate that “The Beat Goes On” is the first track on the album, because it is best left behind. The track could easily be a random filler song for a Super Junior album. When you are a sub-unit, you at least want to set yourself apart from the group as a whole, which “The Beat Goes On” doesn’t really accomplish.

If there is one good thing about the song, it’s the transitions. Although a bit oddly placed, the transitions do surprise you enough that your attention is captured. Although the music is catchy, the lyrics are highly monotonous, and rather mundane.

Luckily the beat does indeed go on. Once you get through the opener the nice, meaty center of the album The Beat Goes On arrives. Luckily, the other six tracks on the album are quite good.

“Growing Pains” is the title track. It demonstrates why D&E teaming up with Team OneSound is so dynamic. Donghae and Team OneSound wrote the lyrics and music for the track (the same goes for “Mother”) and have created quite the depiction of sadness in lyrics, yet not in the music. The dichotomy makes “Growing Pains” a nice song. Instrumentally, you have a sort of quick-paced traditional rock ballad (piano, guitar, drums, that grows stronger as the song progresses), with a light electronic backing. The song moves at a nice clip, but since the vocals are soft in the verses, you do get a sense of lamentation.

Interestingly, the phrase “growing pains” is mentioned nowhere, so there’s no connotation on what is meant from the title. Is it pain growing, or pains from personal growth? Either way, it works. The guys are clearly hurting from a broken relationship, but are slowly letting it all go. “Growing Pains” seems so un-Super Junior-like that it just grabs you and doesn’t let go — which is great.

With allusions to Cinderella, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean, D&E lay on the charm with “Sweater and Jeans.” The duo compares their lady love to a vintage sweater and pair of jeans – classic, fitted, and special. Particularly pointed is the lack of any rap – thank goodness! This is a song to show D&E can both sing. Kudos to Eunhyuk for hitting that high note in the bridge. As for the instrumentation, the laid-back, syncopated rhythm is smooth and groovy. It’s a perfect song for a spring-time drive with the windows rolled down.

The classic musical intro to “Breaking Up” is just a distraction from what is really to come. What follows is a groovy, R&B pop track. The synthesizers, driving bass lines, and funky guitar make the song incredibly danceable. However, like “Growing Pains,” D&E seems intent on making the sad songs appear a lot peppier. Like the title suggests, the song is about breaking up.

20150313_seoulbeats_eunhyukI guess we’re Breaking Up, Breaking Up, Breaking Up
Just so we can Make it up, Make it up, Make it up, Make it up

That refrain is quite catchy and gets repeated in your head constantly — though that could be because it’s all in English. Regardless, the song is about not being willing to let go when the other party wants to end the relationship. To quote Elsa: Let it go, let it go.

Since this is Super Junior we’re talking about, even a sub-unit is going to have at least one high-electronic dance track. For The Beat Goes On, it’s “Lights, Camera, Action.” While the intro track wasn’t quite a club-banger, this song is most definitely going to get you club-ready. Produced by NoizeBank, “Lights, Camera, Action” gets you moving with pure synthesized sound. The synths are clean and non-superfluous. Yes, the lyrics comparing a reaction to a girl to that of a camera shutter opening are a bit cheesy, but this is such a dance tune it’s hard to deny its appeal.

20150313_seoulbeats_super junior_dne“Can You Feel It?” Yes, D&E, yes. With video game-esque music, the sixth track, “Can You Feel It?,” is a song that invades your brain like a disease. The general happy feeling is hard to ignore.  If the music doesn’t get you, that unique refrain will. The inflection used by Eunhyuk is so odd and funny sounding that it stands out. Lyrically, the song is a self-praising pep talk to get you up and giddy — mission accomplished.

Finally, The Beat Goes On ends with “Mother.” If you were expecting a beautiful ballad on this album, well, here you go. This is the slowest and most emotionally touching song offered, which is what you’d predict for a song about loving one’s mother. Similar to “Growing Pains,” the song mixes more traditional pianos and guitar instrumentation with some electronic backing. The guitar parts in the back are solid and nuanced, so listen for those.

20150313_seoulbeats_donghaeLove you mother, I love you
Like no other, I thank you
I endlessly shed tears when I think about you
Love you Mother, I love you
Like no other, I thank you
Now I’ll be your strength and return that bright smile

Written by Donghae and Team OneSound, it is a dedication to their mothers who have supported and loved them, and now they’ll repay in the same manner. The song stands out from the rest of the album, but “Mother” is still a nice addition. You can’t really go wrong with such a relate-able subject matter. It makes you want to call or hug your mother and thank them for loving and supporting you.

Given my general lack of fan interest in Super Junior, I had no real expectations for D&E’s album. D&E rather impressed me with their undeniable chemistry and ability to fit their voices together so nicely. They may not have the vocals of K.R.Y, but they aren’t slouches either. There are no real filler tracks and every song has its own flavor and personality. While the intro track, “The Beat Goes On” isn’t call-home worthy, the rest of the album is pretty solid. D&E did a good job.

Rating: 4/5

(SMTOWN, YouTube [1], images via SM Entertainment, lyrics via pop!gasa)