[Mini-Album] MBLAQ – 100% Ver.

MBLAQ seem content to reinvent themselves with every album and that is certainly what they have achieved with 전쟁이야 [This is War]

When 100% Ver. was announced MBLAQ declared the title reflected their one hundred percent confidence in the assortment of tracks displayed on the mini-album. After taking a listen I can’t help but think—really, MBLAQ?

MBLAQ’s musical style is indeed diverse and this is very much reinforced on this album. Each track on 100% Ver. could not differ more from the previous—it’s hard to believe they’re all contained on the one album by the same artist. This is both the strong and weak point of the album. On one hand we see the breadth of MBLAQ’s talents; on the other we’re overwhelmed with a pile of left-handed gloves—nothing goes together.

Much to the disappointment of people such as myself, the first track released off MBLAQ’s new mini-album was 낙서[Scribble]. I know it seems like I hate ballads, and that’s mostly because I do, but as I emphatically stated in regards to Big Bang’s release of Blue I find nothing more underwhelming than releasing some soppy tune as the initial teaser. I don’t actually hate 낙서[Scribble]—on the contrary I find it to be a beautifully melancholy song—I just hated the fact my first taste of what was a highly anticipated album was a ballad. In any case, the song is okay and, like most of MBLAQ’s releases, showcases G.O’s highly talented vocal chords.  Mir’s rap is always delicious and it was a great surprise to see Seungho join in alongside him. Is there nothing Yang Leader can not do?

The mellow 낙서[Scribble] left me with high expectations of title song 전쟁이야 [This is War]. Through tweets left by Mir about how pleased they were with the MV for this song I could not wait to get my hands on it. Initially, I felt a little robbed. 전쟁이야 [This is War] lacked the tempo I was craving and was very different to the previously released title songs Stay and Mona Lisa. MBLAQ seem content to reinvent themselves with every album and that is certainly what they have achieved with 전쟁이야 [This is War]. The raw, unrestricted emotion pumping through this song is phenomenal; with each listen I am drawn deeper by the understated power. Vocals, lyrics and choreography aside, the soundtrack itself is just breathtaking—you really can’t go wrong with a string accompaniment in a power-track such as this. The outro of the song features a beautiful piano piece and is the cherry on top of the emotional ride MBLAQ ruthlessly dragged you through.

I have a love-hate relationship with the MV for 전쟁이야 [This is War]. I love MVs with a plot. Even if there were a few strange questions raised—why is Joon trying to shoot the love interest at the beginning of the video?; why is Joon so gun-happy?; why is Joon always shooting women?; why is Joon always getting cheated on?—it’s generally straight-forward and encapsulates the emotion of the song beautifully.  The boys’ outfits and choreography were outstandingly sexy—hello leather pants and those oh-so-delicious chest pumps—and the video in general a well-planned masterpiece. It’s so nice to see JTune Camp actually spend time, money and effort on their music videos instead of producing the same low-budget crap time and time again. Yes, that is a stab at SM Entertainment.

The cause of my hate for this video stems from the irritating little dramatic interlude they decide to include smack-bang in the middle of the song. While I understand this scene is essential for showcasing Joon’s curving bullets, it could have been integrated so the flow of the song was not interrupted. There is a number of ways they could have gone about achieving this seamlessly but plonking an unrelated piece of piano in the middle of a song was not one of them. Regardless, this is a great MV and all of MBLAQ’s stage performances were flawless. They were very deserving of their back-to-back wins on M!Countdown.

Shifting gears and Hello My Ex and 아찔한 그녀 [She’s Breathtaking/Jittery Girl/I have no idea what this song is called] provide the low-lights of this patchwork album. 아찔한 그녀 is broken by weird speech recordings courtesy of maknae Mir and Hello My Ex fails to compete with MBLAQ’s previous light-hearted tracks—as ridiculous as it was, 모르겠어요[I Don’t Know] will forever be the best example of a ‘cute’ MBLAQ. Although keeping with being distinctively different of one another, these two songs do not stand up against the emotion of 낙서[Scribble] and 전쟁이야 [This is War] and are better off forgotten.

This leaves opening track Run. I intentionally left this song until last due to its birth yesterday as MBLAQ’s latest piece of promotional material. Run is an interesting composition. Much like the album itself it is all over the place and really not sure what it’s doing. The inclusions of stock audio bits make me simultaneously face-palm and laugh; the song is a little bit of fun and certainly contains ample personality. However, if you are not a lover of rap, I recommend keeping your distance—aside from Mir and Cheondung’s rap verses, the power vocals G.O are lost in an ear-tormenting wail, while Joon and Seungho are relatively unheard of. The choreography is one bucket of awesome, though, and MBLAQ are to be highly commended for their power, dedication and synchronicity.

100% Ver. may not be the perfect album MBLAQ proclaim it to be but it still contains many merits. Its diversity may appear on the surface to be a shambles but beneath its messy appearance is a well-rounded final product. If you ignore the disasters that are 아찔한 그녀 and Hello My Ex the depth of MBLAQ’s capabilities are very much explored and should provide the boys’ with a solid platform for their next endeavour.

Papa Rain can and should be proud of the effort gone into half  this album and all related promotional performances. A+ certainly are.

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