A Shared Dream has a very distinct ‘Japanese’ sound despite U-KISS themselves hailing from Korea.
It’s always exciting when a Korean band releases a Japanese album that is more than an assortment of translated Kpop hits. U-KISS has made a very serious attempt at the Jpop industry with A Shared Dream, one that should be commended due to their successful encapsulation of the quintessential Japanese pop sound. It’s exciting to have an album without a single song you desperately hate, too.
Even before the album dropped I was impressed with the songs U-KISS had assembled—Tick Tack and Forbidden Love are both amazingly catchy and have spent a good time in my head since being released. It’s ironic that my two favourite Japanese pop songs at the moment are in fact by a Korean band. Regardless, both these songs are ridiculously fun and it’s no great surprised they were released as singles prior to the official album drop. Despite the general low-budget feel of the MVs—got to love that damn box—it’s nice to see other U-KISS members aside from Kevin. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Kevin (and his peach lipgloss!) but Forbidden Love especially gives a lot more screen time to the likes of Kiseop and AJ, which is refreshing. The choreography itself deserves a mention as you can do no wrong with that amount of pelvic thrusting.
Eventhough A Shared Dream, the title song of the album, is in fact a ballad it’s pretty decent as far as soppy songs go. The melody is beautiful and the vocals meld together wonderfully. Perhaps there is just something about the Japanese language that lends itself more to ballads than Korean as in general I stomach a larger percentage of soft Jpop than Kpop. All in all this album has a very distinct ‘Japanese’ sound despite U-KISS themselves hailing from Korea, made all the more noticeable by the translated inclusions of Bingeul Bingeul, Man Man Ha Ni, and Shut Up!! While these tracks don’t necessarily take away from the album, they don’t actually bring anything to it aside from highlighting the prominent difference between the respective Jpop and Kpop sounds.
Orion and Believe are both weaker ballads than A Shared Dream but they’re still nice enough to listen to. Unlike several ballads by various bands I have torn apart, these tracks still manage to build towards something which is why they escape—if only barely—being a total snooze-fest. The one joy of ballads is the opportunity they present for vocalists to shine and Kevin, Hoon and Soohyun definitely showcase their talents flawlessly in these three tracks.
Show Me Your Love is not a bad song but it’s not particularly outstanding. It’s one of the weaker tracks on the album as is pretty standard for a Japanese pop song. It’s not overly catchy or supremely boppy so certainly falls short against Forbidden Love and Tick Tack. We Set Off!! and The Sound of Magic would be in the same class as Show Me Your Love were it not for the way these songs gain momentum as they progress. The slow build up is intriguing and certainly kept me interested and most importantly listening until completion. They have noticeably more energy than Show Me Your Love but still fall in the middle of the pack as far as the overall album is concerned.
Eeny, Meny, Miny, Moe joins Forbidden Love and Tick Tack at the pinnacle of this album. The sound is edgy, punchy and quite different to the rest of the tracks assembled on A Shared Dream. The rock inspired rift at the opening of the track gives me goose bumps and as it opens up into a delicious rap verse, I’m equally as impressed. In general, though, the song has the feel of pure pop with which one associates U-KISS. The speed of the vocals in the chorus is great and U-KISS should be proud of the effort placed into the study of Japanese language.
A Shared Dream is a diverse album straddling the divide between Japanese and Korean pop; however, the overall feel is noticeably Jpop, which is a relief considering it is in fact a Japanese album. With a mix of great, high-energy pop songs in the like of Forbidden Love and Tick Tack combined with not-so-painful ballads, A Shared Dream is a nice, complete album of which U-KISS should be proud.