Though leader Zico is always active in his solo career, we haven’t heard from Block B themselves in a while, so it’s nice to have them back with their sixth mini-album “Montage.” The album engages in a range of genres without ever losing the unique Block B perspective. Title track “Shall We Dance,” on the other hand, was a bit of a surprise in that it’s very relaxed compared to some Block B title tracks we’ve heard. Sure, it’s a dance track, but it tones down Block B’s usual brashness, coming off laid back and fun rather than like the inside of a madhouse. That’s not to say their slightly absurdist touch is lost in “Shall We Dance”—far from it. The only sounds present in the chorus besides the occasional shout of “Shall we dance?” and some very minimal percussion are a glaring horn and an unbothered bassline which grooves along with a mind of its own. It’s a strange feeling to hear such a blank hook in K-pop, and from Block B of all people. The whole thing somehow feels almost ironic, as if the chorus is a secret message and Block B is giving us all the hints we need except for one, then laughing at us as we unwittingly flounder amongst an insufficient amount of puzzle pieces. But the vague sense that Block B is playing games with us is how we know we’re listening to Block B. It’s refreshing when a band has a recognizable trademark, and Block B’s certainly is a remarkable one.
So yes, the chorus was a party, if a slightly peculiar one. But by far my favorite part of “Shall We Dance” was leader Zico’s opening rap. Known as one of the most creatively talented rappers in the industry, of course Zico stands out, but other members had chances to show up in later verses and especially in other places on the album. While the title track was fun, I was in fact far more excited about the opening track. “My Zone” had the attitude of a title song and all the quality to back it up. Its double hook is fantastic, following an energetic vocal chorus with a gritty breakdown where Zico delivers the addicting line “There’s no rules, lock the door,” even rolling the L in “lock” like the outside-the-lines icon he is. “My Zone” is the shortest track on the album, not even filling three minutes, but the song is so fully fleshed out that I didn’t even notice its brevity until tracking the number of choruses while writing this review. Another thirty-second-or-so long bridge, and this song could easily have replaced “Shall We Dance” as the title.
The rest of “Montage” was solid as well. “One Way” is the album’s brightest track, with a standard but in no way insubstantial melody that recalls some of Block B’s older soft tunes. “Like This” highlights Block B’s vocals spectacularly, especially showcasing member Taeil’s mature, smoky tone that makes “Like This” feel like a B-side on a record by a ballad professional. The closing “Give and Take,” a B-Bomb solo, dips its toes into funk trends with a guitar riff in the verses and buttery background vocal harmonies in the chorus. Though none of the songs hit me as hard as “My Zone,” it was an enjoyable album, and the “montage” of styles kept it from ever getting boring. I’ll be awaiting the group’s future work while anxiously waiting for Zico’s next comeback.
SHALL WE DANCE: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Yeah, you can bop to this.
Take a look at Block B’s “Shall We Dance” MV below: