BTOB is nothing if not consistent. The group’s second full-length album “Brother Act” is lead, as always, by a strong title track and packed with strong B-sides. They’ve returned after a couple of upbeat comebacks with another ballad, “Missing You,” composed by member Hyunsik and with lyrics written by several members of the team. While nothing we haven’t seen before from the septet, “Missing You” is yet another testament to BTOB’s compositional and vocal power. The fact is that BTOB always delivers, every single damn time they do anything, and “Brother Act” is no exception.
“Missing You” is classic BTOB—sweet, low-to-mid-tempo, with plenty of emotion. While the song’s theme and music video are gloomy, its composition sidesteps moodiness and instead goes for a relaxed, cheerful melody. Highlights included charming singing by members who typically rap and the buoyant a cappella refrain towards the end of the song, as well as, naturally, the vocals throughout. The only thing about “Missing You” that I could have done without was the key change into the last chorus. “Missing You” didn’t need this device to up the drama; it was all already there. This key change only felt jarring. However, I’m 100% biased against key changes within songs—I hate them every time I hear them—so that might be a me problem and not a BTOB problem.
As I’ve said, the rest of the album was as close to perfect as albums get. “My Lady” is compelling, particularly in the rhythmic verses, where rappers Ilhoon and Peniel again deliver delightful singing parts (“Girl I know that I’m far from perfect, but for you, girl, anything’s worth it” is one of the best lines on the album). “Red Lie” with its tunesy, lightly tropical instrumental is one of my personal favorites. The bombastic “Blowing Up” threw me for a loop at first, since BTOB hasn’t gone in for this cheesy dance sound in years, but after the surprise faded it became clear that this track is purely for fun—as evidenced by the silliness exhibited in the live performances by the members, who after all are known for never taking themselves too seriously.
Out of all the songs on the album, “Nanana” absolutely steals the show for me. I just can’t emphasize enough how good this song is. The bouncy triple time, laid-back tempo, and jazzy tune set the perfect stage for BTOB to show off their chops. Falsetto-driven ballad “Dreaming” with its gossamer melody is also absolutely extraordinary. I would have been ecstatic to see either of these songs as the title track. For me the album loses just a smidgeon of momentum after “Dreaming,” but picks back up in the dramatic closing track, “Finale: Our Concert.” “Finale” expresses gratitude to BTOB’s fans from a moving perspective (“There’s no ending to our story. This song will protect you forever, because when the lights go up, you are all the heroine.”) over an appropriately stadium-sized rock instrumental, the powerful chorus of voices in the refrain propelled by huge guitar, synths, and percussion. The lovely track is an exuberant end to the album.
Judging solely by the tracklist of “Brother Act,” it’s no surprise that BTOB are known in South Korea as ballad kings. While my favorite BTOB comeback is still last November’s dark, dramatic dance track “Pray (I’ll Be Your Man)”—and I know I’m not the only one who favors this masterpiece—there’s something heartwarming about seeing a group hang onto its roots. Vocals come through in every single song on “Brother Act,” and so do BTOB’s rappers, though we rarely give them due credit because we get so distracted by the vocalists. I’ll keep cheering for BTOB as long as they continue to do what they’ve been doing.
MISSING YOU: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? It’s a bop.
Take a look at BTOB’s “Missing You” MV below: