Free, fresh, and ready to play, BamBam’s solo debut album riBBon is an eclectic mix of EDM and pop with funky, syncopated, and satisfying beats. The album as a whole has a bright concept with themes of rebirth, new beginnings, and discovering new sides of oneself. The sound of the album generally echoes this concept with a predominantly dance-oriented pop sound, but with a breathtaking ballad at the end of the track list.
Considering this is BamBam’s first solo endeavor except for a couple of OSTs and while under a new company, this is a solid release with some good tracks. Some of the songs do get a bit repetitive at times, but for the most part it is made up for in engaging beats and quirky vocal chops. Thankfully, BamBam gets to flex vocals as well as rapping and dancing, making the release wholly and surprisingly refreshing.
The “Intro” track, produced by beatmaker Murda Beatz, is surprisingly dark and driving with distorted and remixed vocal chops making up the melody. The repetitive, heavy bass creates tension with all the other melodic and harmonic content happening to create a soundscape of heterogenous texture. The vocal chops are mostly indecipherable (which is not uncommon), but do contribute to a natural rising and falling tension as the song progresses.
It is engaging and interesting to listen to, but ultimately a bit left field of the pastel and bouncy concept the rest of the album attempts to convey. To its credit, if the goal is to create a soundscape of musical and sensory possibilities like the name riBBon could suggest, it is effective, but the connection could be clearer.
The title track “riBBon” is one of the most fun and loudly BamBam-esque tracks on the album. Peppered with his iconic “skrrrt skrrrt”s and a fun repeated “I do whatever I wanna do,” the track is light, upbeat, and engaging from beginning to end. For someone as wonderfully weird and iconic as BamBam, the song unsurprisingly fits him.
The MV is fun, bright, and full of tongue in cheek humor. From the human chess sets to BamBam falling from the sky into a room of pink boxes emblazoned with his name, all the imagery is just pure fun. The last almost minute of the MV is filled with bloopers and funny moments from the music video shooting. Letting him just be a big dork really enriches the performances and MV with his unique color, which is nice for anyone just getting to know him as a solo artist or for all the Aghases out there.
The three middle tracks “Pandora,” Look so fine,” and “Air” are closely related in sound in subject but with subtle variances in intensity and style. “Pandora” is a sassy and rap-heavy track that leans into a fat kick drum sound and EDM swishes. The lyrics are repetitive at times, but the beat is nice to listen to with an especially satisfying drop at the chorus.
Even chiller is the next track “Look so fine.” It is a cute and carefree track that sounds fairly similar to “riBBon.” The sound is bouncy with a fun synthesizer ostinato that persists through most of the song and a busy drum set track. The texture is a bit chaotic with a lot going on in the background of the sound field. One of the coolest parts of the song is the pre-chorus with the weird gang vocals that sound like a mix of adults and children singing. This is a post-production effect most likely, but creates a nice, whimsical contrast compared to the rest of the song. The chorus is nice, but feels repetitive by the end of the song without any contrast between iterations.
“Air” tells a story of longing for your love from afar, wishing to once again breathe the same air. In stunning multilingual king fashion, this track is all in English with an interesting and heavily syncopated drum set part accompanying it. There are also engaging and tasteful harmonies to accompany BamBam’s own vocals throughout the song.
The last track “Under the sky” sticks out the most on the album. It is slow, balladic, and stunningly melancholic. Ironically, the metaphor used in “Air” is flipped on its head as BamBam optimistically points out that despite the distance, he and the listener still remain under the same sky. With “the start of a new beginning” and newness on the horizon, it feels fitting that the album finishes with this thoughtful and reflective track. The mix in the song is predominantly acoustic in nature with surprisingly nuanced and powerful vocals from BamBam as well as a chorus of strings and satisfying guitar solos. The instrumental and BamBam’s singing are the superstars for this track, eliciting more of an emotional sound.
On par with BamBam’s quirky personality, riBBon is fun, lively, and filled with entertaining musical details in the composition and production. Rather than chicer rap-heavy styles, BamBam and his producers put his vocals, rap, and bouncy freshness of full display in the concept and music. While it does feel worlds away from a Got7 release in many ways, it does feel like BamBam’s musicality and character did find its way into the album making for an evocative and solid release, especially for a solo debut for a musician from a highly successful idol group. With BamBam under a new company and starting to take more of an active hand in his artistic output, it will be interesting to see how his musicality and concepts continue to grow and evolve after this new beginning with riBBon.
(YouTube, Images via Abyss Company)