Honestly, we weren’t expecting too much from NCT 127’s new Japanese EP.  Not that we didn’t expect them to give their all in terms of sound and performance, especially after the release of Chain, but with practically no downtime in the last 18 months and this set already having been rescheduled after the release of the Japanese Limitless video, we figured this would be just enough to break them into the market and kind of forgettable once the next set came out.

How wrong we were.

First off, this is almost an entirely new project.  There is only one previously released song in this set and, thankfully, it fits in well with the rest of the set.

The boys came to play and gave us something about as close to the Limitless EP than we ever thought we’d get from them again.  There is a concentrated focus on the vocals–so much so that you can tell that the production has been dialed back in places to show off the talents of the singers and rappers.  There are a lot of harmonies packing the songs and, quite often, they take center stage as they have the leads obviously harmonizing with the background for something that really lovely to hear.  The rapping is solid but far less of a focus than we thought given how much their tracks sometimes focus on that aspect of their lineup.  This really is the time for the vocal line to shine and they do so very well as no one comes off weaker than anyone else and they blaze through with solid adlibs and a ton of personality.

But don’t be put off when we say that the production has been dialed back; we mean more that the volume and some of the more standout, ear-catching elements that we have come to expect from an NCT project are less noticeable this time around.  Limitless is probably the most obvious case of that as, if you play this version against the original, the bass seems less heavy and some of the sound effects seem to have been stripped.  But there is still a lot of bounce and energy to the sound of this EP.  The bass still has a good amount of thump and the beat-switches, while not as frequent as previous projects, still show up and give some solid variation to keep things moving.

Translating this was impossible for us (no one around her speaks Japanese), so we’re not sure how the transition from Korean to Japanese has effected the content of the tracks.  NCT 127 tends to dwell more in the love and sensuality realm of writing for their tracks with a little bragging thrown in for good measure.  We recognize words like “kokoro” (which means heart), so we are thinking this true for this set as well, but we would really love to see exactly how well everything comes across in a new language.

This is a must-listen for any NCT 127 fan and not a bad place to start if you’re new to the group.  It has all the right pieces to satisfy the different elements of the fandom (vocal lovers vs. beatheads) and shows that they can still bring quality content while still in near constant promotion.

Our favorite tracks are Come Back and 100, but there is nothing skippable in this set as it is short and concise