K-pop boy band NCT 127 returned Tuesday (April 16) with their second Japanese LP, Awaken.
Preceded by the release of their single “Wakey-Wakey” and its music video last month, Awaken comes just under a year since NCT 127's prior Japanese project, last year's Chain EP, which was released in May. The new album features a total of 12 tracks.
Led by the propulsive trills of the single “Wakey-Wakey,” Awaken also features last year’s single “Chain,” Japanese versions of past releases “Limitless” and “Touch,” the original Korean versions of “Fire Truck” and “Cherry Bomb,” and the English variant of “Regular.” But while it puts the act’s older songs on display, Awaken doesn’t spare any punches with its handful of brand-new content. The album is one of the group’s best productions to date, with each original track offering up tightly produced sounds that are all at once captivating and seve as a platform to highlight each member's distinct vocal delivery.
Awaken opens up with the hypnotically sleek beats of “Lips” before leading into the single and some older songs from the group. The next new track is “Blow My Mind,” which is sure to blow listeners' minds with its classic boy band vibes fueled by old-school, pulsating digital blips over a sweeping, creeping melody that is full of layered verses and bright ad libs. The next original song is a classic, instrumental-based ballad “Long Slow Distance,” through which NCT 127’s vocalists take their time to shine before the album shifts gears entirely to the total and utter chaos of “Kitchen Beat,” a boisterous, chant and sing-song-rap-filled song exuding swagger and confidence in typical NCT 127 style.
The album closes on the ethereal “End to Start,” which teases listeners through its rock-imbued melancholy that begins with a sense of mellow sprightliness before growing into a propulsive declaration of a new beginning as the group sings about being “ready for a new flight/time for slayin’.” An echoing repetition of the phrase “the origin will begin” courtesy of Mark leaves a sense of mystery to the song, and ties in with the act’s ongoing NEO CITY - The Origin world tour.
The same day as releasing the album, NCT 127 also released a new image on social media, cryptically sharing a photo of the group with no info aside from the phrase "We Are Superhuman." According to Soompi, it is likely tied into upcoming new Korean music from the group in May.