The critically-acclaimed four piece bring one of the strongest rock releases of the year
In the midst of K-pop sensations like Girls' Generation, 2NE1, TVXQ! and CNBLUE going head-to-head with a slew of new releases this week -- read about them all at K-Town -- critically-acclaimed indie act Nell manages to stay unthreatened with one of the strongest and coherent rock albums of the year, "Newton's Apple."
After releasing a five-minute album preview clip (see bottom of story) on Feb. 19, the rock royalty four-piece from Woolim Entertainment (home to INFINITE and TASTY) unleashed its massively anticipated LP Feb. 27. "Newton's Apple" is the band's sixth full-length, as well as the final installation to come from its "Gravity" trilogy series that featured "Holding Onto Gravity" (from 2012) and "Escaping Gravity" (2013).
For lead single "Four Times Around the Sun," the band's vocalist and principle architect Kim Jong Wan flaunts his clever songwriting using the force of gravity as a metaphor to describe one's inability to forget lost love for four grueling years. Despite the heart-shattering lyrics (e.g. "While the Earth went four times around the sun / I longed for you and shed tears hundreds of times") Nell wields an arsenal of uplifting sounds with thundering drums and lively piano chords.
The 11-track LP also includes standouts like "History of Silence," "Grey Zone," "Newton's Apple," "Night of Rebirth" and "Escape From Extinction."
The slow, atmospheric soundscape of "History of Silence" -- a mix of smooth piano melodies and soft bass lines -- narrates a heartbreaking story of a couple parting ways both in silence. Kim's breathy, pained vocals highlight the somberness of the song. Meanwhile "Grey Zone" starts as a juxtaposition of simple music and repetitive lyrics: "I want you so much closer than this / But we are so much better / When we are not together," which gradually explodes with bashing drums and scraggly guitar licks.
The dreamy production of "Newton’s Apple," with heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics like, "I’ll burn for you / each and every part of me belongs to you. When you're in your darkest hour / I'll put them all on fire and guide you," will please Nell's longtime fans. Plus, "Night of Rebirth" builds and breaks feelings of angst with heavy guitar riffs and pumping synths, while "Escape From Extinction" is a mind-tickling blend of strings and pipe instruments, in which Kim expresses the desperation to escape from despair and regret.
"Newton's Apple" is a concrete effort of control and creativity, perfectly summing up the group's two-year project with a wide range of rock genres.
Praised far and wide by industry professional and fans -- last year's "Ocean of Light" made Billboard's Top 20 K-Pop Songs of 2013 -- Nell has amassed a large, diehard following in Korea since its 1999 debut.
Nell will attempt to broaden its international following on March 11, when the band rocks Austin, Texas, for SXSW.