NCT 127 are back. Almost a year after their last comeback with “Sticker” and repackage title track “Favorite,” the nine-member boy group have returned with their fourth studio album, 2 Baddies, with a same-named title track. As one of the main units of the boy group NCT, NCT 127 are undoubtedly one of the most ambitious groups in K-pop. They churn out release after release, all while being involved in solo activities and world tours, though group promotions are expected to slow down over the next two years as some members are gradually nearing their military enlistment.

Although NCT 127 initially started out with a public-friendly yet experimental sound, they have since ditched this and created something of a trademark style, which is loud, messy, abrasive, and unconventional. Their music is a hit or miss, usually dividing K-pop listeners. Some celebrate their unique sound while others find it hard to listen to. There have also been complaints about excessive focus on members Taeyong and Mark.

Those who expected something different with “2 Baddies” will be left disappointed, as NCT 127 basically deliver more of the same. “2 Baddies” is disorganized, energetic, bizarre, and unlike their previous songs, it’s quite hard to enjoy. Meanwhile, the MV is a disjointed clutter with bright neon colors, lots of fancy cars, and nice choreography.

The MV does not follow a distinctive storyline, but instead opts for an overall futuristic vibe. It opens with close-up shots of the members with impressive transitions. Next, we enter member Taeyong’s rap as he wears a striking 2013 G-Dragon-esque colorful outfit with a fur hat and a walking stick. Close-up shots of Mark in multicolored sets, climbing stairs with member Haechan, follow. Members Jaehyun and Jungwoo are strikingly sitting on thrones. A common effect in these scenes are light beams and light rays. It seems that the transcendence of time and space is hinted at, but throughout the MV it remains debatable what meaning is supposed to be behind this effect.

The song’s Korean title “질주” translates to “too fast,” which explains the overemphasis on fast cars in the MV. Cars are recurring throughout the video, whether the members are sitting on top of one, racing cars, or the huge car chassis hanging above the members during the dance sequences. This looks quite spectacular, but what looks downright funny is how the car member Johnny is sitting in with an open door seems to be self-moving.

Starting with the bridge, the MV finally offers more variety. The melodic tune goes well with the MV’s black and white setting and the members being covered in the pouring rain. Fluorescent painting on the member’s bodies also fits quite well with the overall recurrence of neon colors in the MV.

The song’s dynamic choreography is a clear highlight of the MV. During the chorus, the members use hand movements to convey the song’s title and arm movements that imitate a car wheel. Especially towards the end, the formation changes are captivating, and this looks like it will be another strong performance track for NCT 127. What is less positive and less clear, however, is the song’s title. The members repeatedly sing of “2 Baddies, 1 Porsche” in the chorus, also mentioning rainbow shades (there are seven rainbow shades), so the best guess might be that they are hinting at their own group name.

Like the majority of NCT 127’s MVs, “2 Baddies” does not have an overall theme or plot, rendering it quite unmemorable. With some of the outfits and effects leaving a rather tacky impression, this might be NCT 127’s least impressive MV release. Unfortunately, the song isn’t particularly enjoyable either. The vocal mixing during the chorus is too abrasive, likely to deter listeners.

Still, credit has to be given to NCT 127 and SM Entertainment, who are clearly committed to this experimental sound. Many fans have called NCT 127 the SM group that have failed to achieve public recognition, but it seems the group prefer their inventive music over anything else.

(Billboard, YouTube. Lyrics via YouTube. Images via SM Entertainment)