Album review: 2PM - 1:59PM

Album review: 2PM - 1:59PM
After the scandal that rocked the Korean music scene so much that I felt it over here in the UK. The beastly 2PM boys went into hibernation to work on their debut studio album. Given their singles and having JYP as their boss and producer, the album could have gone in a variety of directions. But it seems loss, brooding and brooding about loss was the theme that would re-occur with their 'oddly titled, yet kinda makes sense' album 1:59PM. Fitting.

Let's start with the songs we knew well long before this album dropped. "10 points out of 10" is as fun and as energetic as it was when 2PM first debuted with it. It will sound incredibly outdated a year from now. And even amongst the other songs on 1:59PM it sounds a little dated. But it is a really fun pop record. It's a rite of passage that every boy group has to drop at least one song like this. Plus, it's nice to have a fun uptempo song amongst an album full of nothing but down tempo jams and songs about relationships gone down the crapper.

"Again and again" is a song that still continues to grow on me. I have no idea why or how. I hated the song back when JYP first unveiled it. The whole thing was so clichéd and unoriginal. I thought I was listening to a mash-up of Mims "This is why I'm hot" and a song from a T-Pain album. But the songs' charm seems to be working it's magic on me now. "Again and again" is a hot song and it's overall style compliments many of 1:59PM's songs nicely. It's just a shame it was at the tail end of the album, and not nearer the top alongside "Heartbeat" and other songs it would compliment.

"Heartbeat" is a great song, and one of 2PM's best. All of the guys sound great on this song. Well...except for Nichkhun, whose rap is absolutely terrible. He doesn't have the strongest voice and the dude can't rap for shit. His inclusion is the songs weak point. But fortunately enough, every other aspect of the song is so tight that everything else compensates.

"Tired of waiting" has a really cool bounce to it, and it's sound is very much 'now'-ish and relevant. The synths, the auto tune it's all there. But whilst the bounce on the verses is hot, the chorus is frantic mess of sounds. And the auto tune feels unnecessary and the whole song feels like it's just coasting along. "Tired of waiting" could have been a great song. But the awful chorus and over tuned vocals make it hard to connect with. It's still a likeable song though.

2PM bring on the heartbreak with "I was crazy about you". At this point it seems 2PM are in their element when they're singing songs about relationships and shit that's gone wrong. Those who liked "Again and again", "I hate you" and "Heart beat" will like this song, as it's like a nice concoction of all three songs. The military style drums line and smooth piano melody provide a nice musical back drop and the 2PM boys sound strong. This is probably the song on the album where their vocals are strongest. Taecyeon (whose verses are usually cool highlights in 2PM's songs) feels unnecessary on "I was crazy about you". He barks during the hook, and you go from listening to smooth R&B crooning and then you've got Taecyeon shouting over a beat switch that sounds like a fight is about to break out. He does the song no favours. Fans my disagree, but I don't think the song needed Taecyeon on it. Especially if all he was going to do from the start was just bark into a microphone.

When I first sure the song title "Gimme the light", I thought to myself "Oh dear God. 2PM have gone and done a cover of Sean Paul!" But thankfully not. (Could you imagine Taecyeon spittin' Patwa!?) "Gimme the light" is a really boring song. It's not a bad song. But it just feels like it's lacking some elements to help elevate it to the kind of song you'd play up loud or skip to. It sounds more like the kind of song you'd hear in the save room of an RPG game, or a porn flick.

JYP has his boys try their hand at an R&B jam with "All night long", and the result isn't all that great. Think Chris Brown's "Take you down" done badly with auto-tune, and you're half way there. The beat is really nice, swoony and sets the mood. With Taecyeon's deep voice providing the spoken intro where he implores how he's going make a girl feel something she's never felt before, you know it's about to go down and that hottests panties are hitting the floor. But the song falls to shit as soon as the 2PM boys start to sing. Yet again there is too much reliance on auto-tune. Vocoded, auto-tuned and talk box vocals in a slow jam are fine. There was a time when they were staples. Blackstreet and Teddy Riley popularized it back when and K-Ci and JoJo ran with it for their songs. But it was used in moderation. Not throughout entire songs and for every single vocal. Because all of the 2PM guys' (aside from Taecyeon) are auto tuned, you feel like you can't really connect with them or the song - because all of the vocals just bleed into a layered robotic mess. The beat on this song is really hot, and I feel like JYP wasted it and ruined it by not tightening the vocal production enough and resorting to auto tune once again.

Not entirely odd for a Korean release, 1:59PM features remixes of singles. All four of them suck. They're so bad that I'm wondering why the hell JYP commissioned them and allowed them to make their way onto the album. He should be slapped for this shit. I'm sure fans would have much preferred the original version of "Hate you" instead of some badly produced gay club remix. And why does "Heartbeat" even need a remix!?

The vocals on this album are also a problem. Because JYP doesn't push the boys enough. Rather than bother to produce and arrange their vocals, he instead just chose to auto tune the hell out of them. It's no secret that 2PM don't have the best voices and that 2AM can sing them all under a tram. But they have decent enough voices between them that they can all harmonizes nicely together and hold a song. It's a real shame that the strength of Junho and Junsu's vocals, and the personality we know that 2PM have in truck loads is just plastered over with auto tune. Personality is the one thing this album feels like it's lacking, and the auto tune and lack of vocal production is partly to blame for that.

1:59PM is a good album. But you don't feel 100% satisfied after you're done listening to it. The singles are all strong. But the rest of the album feels like filler. And the track order and inclusion of badly produced remixes doesn't help. 2PM are suck a likeable group with so much charisma going on for them, that this album will sail on that alone. I just wish that the bubbly, fun and unique personalities of the 2PM members that we see on variety shows was more at the forefront of some of 1:59PM's songs. Because this album could have easily been recorded by any other boy group, and been no better or worse for it. JYP needs to take notes from YG entertainment, and really allow his group members to shine and be distinguishable on songs. Because aside from Taecyeon, you'd be hard pressed to pick out who is who on certain songs.

A good effort. But JYP and 2PM are capable of better between them. Much better.

Album highlights:
■ Heartbeat J's fave
■ Tired of waiting
■ I was crazy about you
■ 10 points out of 10
■ Again and again