Since their January 2012 debut, K-pop boy band B.A.P has been one of the hardest-working groups in South Korea, promoting four singles in both 2012 and 2013. Wasting no time in 2014, the sextet kicked this year’s promotions off with its first full-length album, “First Sensibility,” after opting to release EPs for all its past singles.
While B.A.P has become famous for hard-hitting tracks that blend hip-hop and EDM — see past releases like “One Shot” or “Hurricane” — the act’s new single, “1004 (Angel),” embraces pop more than ever.
With the same gospel-tinged, country-rock sound that made OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” so remarkable, the boys blend their powerful vocals and quick-spit rap skills to divulge devastating lyrics about losing a love. While we can’t be sure that “Counting Stars” was the direct influence, it is a great example of how just how congruous Western and Korean pop music truly are. And after a successful U.S. tour in Spring 2013 and getting experimental on their “Badman” EP, finding that accessible, perfect single is probably more of a priority than ever for the group.
The music video for “1004 (Angel)” further proves B.A.P’s impressive skills with a visual that shows off some of the group’s most intense group choreography yet. The boys are jumping and bouncing around more than ever, adding in-sync floor crawls and high kicks on the chorus. While the sextet typically features dramatic or tough images in their video (watch them go to battle in “Badman”), the boys instead opt to show an emotionally-vulnerable side: The members cry on camera and take a girl to the amusement park, but also play dangerous with a handgun, with member Himchan apparently toying with the thought of suicide by the video’s haunting conclusion.
One of the visual’s best moments comes from main B.A.P dancers Jong Up and Zelo, who have a TVXQ!-esque choreography breakdown once the beat kicks in. If the group ever considered a dance-focused, duo sub-unit, featuring the couple would undoubtedly producing a visually-thrilling concept.
There is a break in the music video for a snippet of “First Sensibilty” track “Save Me” to play. While the beat-heavy, hip-hop/R&B track is not a huge depature from B.A.P’s past work, but the rest of the “First Sensibility” album certainly sees the boys playing with more genres than ever.
“BangX2” gets into a hard-rock sound whiel “Spy” is a throwback to ’90s hip-hop, old-school jazz samples and all. “S.N.S.” features zippy hip-hop and “Lovesick” and “B.A.B.Y” (below) are upbeat dance-pop confections.
In a relatively short amount of time, B.A.P has already sent two albums to No. 1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart. In 2013, the band’s “One Shot” EP topped the chart in March while the “Badman” EP hit No. 1 in August.
The fact that B.A.P’s “First Sensibility” is the band’s first proper full-length album, along with its four successful American tour dates, the record is likely perform well on the chart and, very possibly, on more competitive Billboard charts after album sales are tallied and revealed next week.
Listen to a highlight medley of “First Sensibilty” below: