Another group I never thought I’d write about. When Dalmatian debuted, it was hard to take a boyband named after a cute breed of dogs seriously. Their songs didn’t do it for me either. “Round 1,” “Lover Cop” and “That Man Opposed” were not to my liking at all. In fact the only song I ever liked by them was the album track “Lost in Love“. But the one thing I did appreciate about the group was the members worked on many of the songs themselves, a rarity in K-pop.
But now, like a lot of their rookie peers, Dalmatian have gone though some changes. From an original line-up of six members, they’re now down to five. Member Day-Day left, new member Simon comes in, and brings with him perfect English skills. (Something which shines on this album)
So why am I writing about a group I never cared for before? Because their comeback song is probably their best song to date!
Here’s a track-by-track review:
1. “E.R” – The lead single:
As soon as I heard this song, I couldn’t help but compare it to B2ST’s “Fiction”. The pacing, song structure and the melody all seemed similar, albeit with a few keys off. Still, I won’t call “E.R” a carbon copy of “Fiction” – because this song manages to sound so good on its own. It was only a few days back INFINITE came out with out with “The Chaser” and as an Inspirit, I find myself listening to “E.R” a lot more! – 4.5/5
The MV does everything to re-introduce Dalmatian to the world. Gone are the silly themes, aegyo-filled actions – this ‘new’ Dalmatian look serious and hard edged. They look pretty cool in fact, enough to separate them from the standard look of every other K-pop boy band. And although the choreography isn’t great, the MV still serves its purpose well.
2. “차 안에서 (Drive)” – The second track keeps the pace on a high, but with a smoother jam. The beats are really nice, vocals even nicer and its yet another good track. There are lot of lines sung in English, and with Simon on board, it just sounds so much better when the accent and pronunciation is done right. – 4/5
3. “Hurt Me” – It was by this point I realized this was a good mini-album. The third track sounds like a boyband song from the late ’90s. The beats and the keyboard hook are reminiscent of teen-pop music of that era. Not really a ballad, but the tempo is a notch lower on this one. – 3/5
4. “Still By Ur Side” – Rounding up the songs on ‘State of Emergency,’ this is tookeeps the ‘feel’ consistent. Consider me impressed, I never expected a consistent tracklist like this. – 3/5
5. “E.R” (Instrumental) – I know it’s an instrumental, but I really enjoy listening to this a lot (but I’m not going to give it a rating though)
When your album only consists of 5 tracks (4 proper songs) and each one is good, if not great, then you know you have a good release in hand. Sure it’s only their second mini-album, but ‘State of Emergency’ is in my opinion Dalmatian’s best release to date. “E.R” is great single and I hope the boys get a taste of success this time around.
With INFINITE promoting “The Chaser,” I doubt Dalmatian have a shot at winning an award. But even if they don’t, I hope Dalmatian at least get taken seriously as a musical act. I’m sure it wouldn’t mean a lot more to the members given its been over one-and-half years since they debuted, and despite three singles, the group have yet to make much of an impact on the K-pop charts.
With a whole new image, a great new song, Dalmation shows it’s never too late to go in for a makeover. U-KISS did it last year and look at where they are now. I consider these changes as a sign of maturity in K-pop. When the ‘big 3’ entertainment companies went with a certain formula, every other idol wannabe went with the tried-and-tested to emulate the initial success K-pop saw. But the newbie agencies seem to have woken up to the fact the market is saturated with the same image and sound, and that if you want to set yourself apart from the rest, you best do something different. The fact that the album cover only shows ‘DMTN,’ you know whoever in charge at Monkey Funch Entertainment wanted people to forget the white suits with black spots. It’s a move I can commend.
My final rating for Dalmatian’s 2nd mini-album ‘State of Emergency’: 3.5 out of 5 (Pretty Good)