2PM Are Subtle, Seductive Gentleman on 'No.5': Track-by-Track Album Review
Last year, 2PM showed off their party-boy sides with their funky Go Crazy! album that incorporated new and unexpected sounds to their proven R&B formula. Less than a year later, the sextet are back with No.5 that represents their fifth, full-length Korean album, but also might be represent 2PM as a group overall.
With contributions from a majority of the members, No.5 feels like 2PM truly in their sweet spot with tracks that play off their signature sound, but do so more confidently and with a wave of sophistication missing in recent releases like Go Crazy! or 2013's Grown.
1. My House - Earlier this year, 2PM's label mates miss A made a major comeback with their single "Only You." It feels like 2PM looked to recapture that same easy-breezy, in-love sentiment with "My House," but by adding a masculine spin. Like "Only You," 2PM's new single is a subtle, synthy-pop jam that even incorporates a similarly swagger-ific breakdown section, but this time brings pitched-up baby vocals and bouncier synthesizers, giving it a stronger hip-hop feel.
The accompanying video has a fairy-tale theme seeing the guys play different storytime characters (Taecyeon is the big bad wolf, Wooyoung plays a Snow White-witch character) as they all vie for a Cinderella-type girl. But if they're villains, they sure look like Prince Charmings with suave choreography that looks tailored to seducing a lover. It's all swoon-worthy and visually pairs nicely with No.5's coquettish nature.
2. Nobody Else - A sensual cut keeps the flirtatious vibes, but ups the sensuality with surging synths and slick harmonies. There's sexy little hook in here, but it's far from bubblegum, giving the song another understated and sophisticated feel. With lyrics written by and production helmed by member Junho, "Nobody Else" confirms the record's understated, alluring feel.
3. Hallucination - Another sexy, R&B-pop knockout that matches with the earlier two tracks. "Hallucinations" is the work of K-pop producers e.one, who are on a roll this year -- also producing Kara's "Cupid," which had a similarly subtly sophisticated feel to it.
4. Not the Only One - While it opens with a minimal production of snare drums and soft synths, "Not the Only One" grows in ferocity with loads of exciting belts brought to the bridge and final performance of the (super-slick) chorus.
5. Hotter Than July - This opens with a generic, R&B mid-tempo production, but the guys' sweet harmonies lift this from falling into dull territory. Taceyeon's low-timbre rapping shines here, acting as a soft growl in the guys' uplifting vocals.
6. About to Go Insane - The bouncy electro-pop production gets mixed with unexpected brass and grungy guitars for one of the record's most intriguing instrumentals so far, giving the LP a refreshing sonic shift at the right moment.
7. Red - The kind of slow jam that 2PM has a specialty for, "Red" is a standout that's sure to make fans melt. The guys' vocals easily glide over the slinky track with a cool sonic moment as their boy-band belts back another sexy rap from Taceyceon on the bridge.
8. Wanna Love You Again - The most swoon-worthy cut on the album, "Wanna Love You Again" sees the guys showcasing their falsetto over a baby-making beat. The touches of harps bass guitar add to the dreamy mood for one of the standout vocal performances from the boys.
9. Know Your Mind - There's a bit of an old-school R&B feel here that fits into the overall mood of No.5, even if it's a more forgettable cut.
10. Magic - The tempo gets picked up with this swing-y, throwback track with the blasting brass. Listen up for fun lyrics about having tricks up their sleeves, asking their love interest, "Is this your card?" for a playful feel here.
11. Jump - The most EDM-inspired track on the album, "Jump" keeps the "Magic" energy high and surges through a zippy production of trap snares and spastic synths. Even though the production clearly belongs in 2015, the simple chorus is reminiscent of early boy band material like New Kids on the Block. Along with "About to Go Insane" and "Magic," this is the third No.5 cut written and produced by Taecyeon and new 2PM collaborator Raphael. The duo clearly have a knack for exciting, atypical pop-R&B productions.
12. Good Man - Like most K-pop albums, No.5 ends with a ballad, but there's a definite seductive nature still here, but the classy jazz production (co-produced by Chansung) is a grown and polished type of flirt. The guys' vocals slide through the chorus, promising to be a "good man" before an awesome saxophone solo leads them to next sections. There's no humongous climax moment here, but instead it's a sophisticated album closer that truly shows that 2PM has officially grown into gentleman, even with a more mature outlook, they're sounding just a hot as ever.