f(x) are a group that only won me over last year with their summer releases “Pinnochio (Danger)” and “Hot Summer“. Their brand of electro-pop mixed in with acute girlyness and signature dance choreography made me watch their performances week after week no matter how old it got. But in SM’s world, f(x) are the girl group equivalent to boy band SHINee. Neither are considered superstar groups like SNSD or SuJu, despite racking up enough hits and a fair number of wins on music programs to earn that status.
Maybe its public perception, or lack of success in Japan – or maybe it’s because they debuted only a few years ago. Whatever it is, you can’t help but pay attention whenever a group like f(x) now makes a comeback.
Here’s a track-by-track review:
1. “Electric Shock”
SM’s tryst with European (namely Scandinavian) producers continues. Produced by Willem Laseroms, Maarten Ten Hove and Joachim Vermeulen Windsant from the Netherlands, “Electric Shock” is an instant win! I loved the song on first listen, and especially the build to the “na na nana na” chorus. Amber for once doesn’t get a lame, slapped on rap verse for the sake of giving her something! Instead, she gets to sing.
The music video is reminiscent of “Pinnochio (Danger)” with its boxed set, but looks a lot livelier. The girls look very futuristic with their styling and their choreography is, again, simple yet catchy. I love how a even a simple jump is made to look outstanding thanks to the arm lifts. Hats off to the choreographers SM employs! The MV compliments what is already a really good song. – 4/5
2. “제트별 (Jet)” – Produced by SM Entertainment’s in-house composer Kenzie (who also wrote “Oh!”), this is one her best songs to date! I was in a fix as to which song I liked more, this or “Electric Shock”. I sense a bit of William Orbit influence in the sound, which makes for sense, for he is one electro-pop’s best. Still, “Jet” is one of those album tracks that will remain a favourite even I get tired of hearing the lead single. – 4/5
3. “지그재그 (Zig Zag)” – The girls stay on the same electronic express even at track 3. Although not as catchy as the fist two tracks, it’s still very listenable. – 3/5
4. “Beautiful Stranger” -A track for the trio of Amber, Luna and Krytsal. Amber raps in Korean, and f(x)’s vocalists Luna and Krystal sing the rest. Produced by Danish composer Mich Hansen, this is another purchase from Europe. – 2.5/5
5. “Love Hate” – By now I was expecting a proper ballad, but I figure SM has a clear image of f(x) they want to promote. So here we have another catchy example of fine girl pop. Uptempo, very lively and quite an expressive chorus. This should make a great live track. – 3/5
6. “Let’s Try” – Another European import, trust f(x) to be given a completely unconventional pop song. Amber really shines on this track, and it’s about time the most popular ‘tom-boy idol’ did. – 3/5
Since EXO’s debut release I’ve noticed SM’s album quality has gone up a notch. I’m happy they didn’t latch on to prior standards like giving Amber lame rap lines just for the sake of it. It felt so tacky, and made her look like an outcast (as if she wasn’t one already). ‘Electric Shock‘ the album is a quality release from start to finish. Some people found “Beautiful Stranger” a far better song than I did, but each to their own. I found the rest of the tracks and especially the first two tracks unstoppable in repeat listens.
Going by last year’s release trend, I figure the summer isn’t over for f(x) and we can expect another re-package album in a few months time. And if its going to take the group to greater heights of success, so be it. I’m starting to find more and more f(x) songs in my K-pop playlist now. ‘Electric Shock‘ is another one of those additions.
My final rating for f(x)’s mini-album ‘Electric Shock’: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)