Album Review: BEAST’s Fiction and Fact
BEAST have just released their first full length album, Fiction and Fact, and they have once again delivered an album that proves they can stand toe to toe with any top group in kpop.
The main reason I respect BEAST so much is that they grow with each album. Each time they release something new, there is always a new dynamic and they seem to grow more comfortable. Each album they have released has its pros and cons, but more than the others, Fiction and Fact is an album with a coherent theme throughout. Not every song is a standalone masterpiece, but the less powerful songs add to the coherent feeling throughout; an emotional roller coaster of the ups and downs of love, going from happy to dark to bittersweet.
Track 1 is called The Fact and is a great start to the album, immediately setting a soft relaxed tone. The music is comprised of slightly subdued strings, piano and slightly more prominent drums and guitar. The purpose of such a soft and delicate musical composition is to serve as platforms to show case the ever improving vocals of the group.
The vocal melody evokes a storytelling feeling, with each member putting powerful expression behind their voices. It feels like story telling as each member takes turns, and the song moves forward at a consistent pace. It feels like it is just the beginning of a song, or in this case the album, and then it builds up to crescendo that is not fulfilled, leaving you hanging before transitioning into the next track.
Track 2 is called Fiction and it is the first music video from the album.
To fit the theme of “fiction,” the song starts with a writing sound effect. Then we have the musical accompaniment which is a strange composition of a sweet melody from a distorted piano mixed with a strong club beat. It may sound odd, but it works.
As the song title suggests, they really prepared the vocals like they are telling a story. The lyrics lament a painful love and although they are all telling the same story, each member’s individual vocal styles shine thorough as they convey this pain. They have worked very hard to make their vocals sound as sincere as possible so we can feel the pain.
The chorus is another example of the addictive vocal patterns that I have come to expect from the group. The sweet notes held behind the word “fiction” create an addictive melody that makes you want to sing along. The problem is, do you hold the note or say fiction? I always try and do both!
The repetition of saranghae in the rap is something that is also noteworthy. The reason I say this is because that in my opinion, the lyrics themselves play second best to the power and expression they put on the lyrics. They sing like this is happening to them. To show a real strength behind it, instead of saying saranghae once, it is repeated to show how much he truly loves her.
This song is absolutely stunning and people are already talking about their dance in the chorus. My favorite description of it so far is the “penguin dance.” I am sure many people will now try and learn it, (I am already!)
Track 3 is called Back to You and it starts with vocals and piano in a style I do not expect from Beast. It almost feels like the beginning of an indie song, then it reminded me of Cry by MBLAQ. The way they present their vocals seem very well thought out and as the beat really kicks in, the group blends their vocals well. It then builds up to a faster beat with a sound effect that reminds me of their song Soom.
The chorus has hints of Fiction’s chorus in how the melody sounds, but this just strengthens a claim I see from many fans, that Beast have mastered the addictive chorus. It is further strengthened by the strong beat.
It even has a small breakdown before the chorus, and I kept thinking throughout the whole song that although it doesn’t stand out as anything different, it’s a strong song, and you can tell the creators of the song worked hard in adding lots of fun elements to the music.
Track 4 is called You and it is evident from the beginning that it is a feel good song. The music starts simple, the beat starts simple, and the amazing vocals soar above the elongated melody in the background. It creates a feeling of soaring through the air and it is an amazing song to lay back and listen to with your eyes closed. The more you listen to this song, the more you will be singing “You you you you,” which makes we wonder, was it planned? After listening to BEAST’s song V.I.U (Very Important You,) I was back then also singing “you you you you.”
Track 5 is called Freeze and it starts with a really catchy feel good melody before introducing sweeping synths reminiscent of European dance music. For some reason, the very beginning reminds me of I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, not sure if that is just me, I can just imagine DJ Masa combining the songs.
This is the song that you just know Beast created as the “fun” song, much like their song Beautiful. This is a perfect song for the summer (good timing!) and I recommend that you listen to it when you are getting ready in the morning, it will get you in a great mood!
I love especially when they slow the song down and the drums build up in a crescendo that you will find in most club music nowadays. The melody is addictive and the vocals have an optimistic feel to them.
Track 6 is called Virus and I have seen many fans talking about this song, it feels like it might become the second most popular song of the album.
The lyrics are prominent in this song, with the group singing about a painful love. The lyric that stands out is
You are my virus
You will make it harder on me
When groups speak about love in a different way to the usual romantic lyrics, people usually take notice. BEAST are perfect for this kind of song and one of the group’s obvious strengths is shown again through the emotion they put into their voice. Although songs like Beautiful are great, this kind of song about painful love is perfect for their vocals.
Track 7 is called 불러보지만 and much like Freeze, starts with some strong synths before dropping into a soft RnB beat with smooth and slow vocals.
BEAST never make a bad song in my opinion but this song didn’t stand out much to me, I think the problem is when it’s compared to a song like Fiction it doesn’t seem to be as powerful. Maybe this is also down to listening to the songs in order, but despite this, the song shows how strong the vocals of the group have become, not only individually but also as a group. They are harmonizing the group’s vocals better than ever. This is the biggest improvement since their last album in my opinion, they have gotten much stronger combining their vocals in a group melody.
Track 8 is called 비가 오는 날엔 and much like how Fiction starts with a sound effect, this song starts with the sound of rain, which perfectly introduces a sad guitar melody. The vocals then kick in with an undertone of sadness and pain. Again, I cannot stress how much they are perfect for this kind of song. Their voices are very convincing with the emotion, and they are becoming much more comfortable with providing back up harmonies.
In the chorus, the assisting harmonies somehow remind me of 2am, which is a compliment, because this really shows that BEAST can pull off a ballad as good as any other group.
Track 9 is Lightless (Unplugged Ver.) a song title that excited me when I saw, considering the fact that I loved Lightless and the thought of an unplugged version intrigued me.
To be honest, this isn’t the sort of song I would choose to do an unplugged version, but as soon as I heard the melody played out on a piano and guitar, I was sold. With the music and vocals slowed down, the song takes on a brand new tone, it feels bittersweet, it feels sad, but most of all when they slow down the “la la la la lightless,” the song is almost no longer just a different version, but stand alone brilliance.
This song is so soft yet so powerful at the same time, and although it’s hard to not sing the “la la la la lightless” at full speed, it is definitely one of my favorite songs of the album, the vocals are amazing!
Track 10 is called Fiction (Orchestra Ver.) and I have to admit that I am a sucker for orchestral versions so I have nothing but praise. Much like 2am’s song Prologue from the I Did Wrong repackaged album, it tugs at your heart with a beautiful strings section that hits you hard.
There is so much they could have done with this, they could have been elaborate, but they adopt the simple choice of an emotional orchestral accompaniment with the vocals on top. Although I LOVE the original Fiction, I feel like with the orchestral accompaniment, the vocals actually become much more powerful and emotional. There is no way you could listen to this song and not feel moved.
I give the album 4 out of 5. I think that it is an amazing album, praise worthy, but considering BEAST grows with each album, I am reluctant to give it full marks. I think that they will continue to improve and provide an even more stunning album next time.
To see BEAST become such a powerful group warms my heart. Once they were called recycled and now they stand at the forefront of modern Kpop. It’s almost too much to have to wait for the next release!