After one year since “Superhuman” EP, NCT 127 are back with their sophomore album “Neo Zone”, released on March 6th. If with “Superhuman” the multitalented group took on a funkier and electro-pop sound with “Neo Zone” these elements are still present but NCT 127 went back to their original distinctive sound and expanded it. The album is a well-crafted mixture of R&B, Hip-Hop, EDM and pure pop.
With “Neo Zone”, NCT 127 not only have outdone themselves musically but also visually. In the weeks leading up to the album release, the group planned a lengthy and fully packed comeback schedule doing something that other K-Pop groups haven’t done before. Alongside teaser images and other promotional content, the group featured in video preview tracks for 12 of the 13 songs on “Neo Zone”. All this incredible engaging schedule paid off well as the group earned over half a million album pre-orders in South Korea alone and after the album released reached #5 on Billboard 200 Album Chart.
With “Neo Zone” NCT 127 are giving fans a fun, good time and there’s something for everyone. ‘Elevator’ is the perfect opener, a feel-good mid-tempo track that sets the mood for the entire album. The title track ‘Kick It’ definitely stands out and takes us back to iconic NCT 127 tracks like ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Limitless’. The track taps into a diverse set of genres, blending rock, R&B, and hard-hitting rap verses.
With ‘Boom’, ‘Pandora’s Box’ and ‘Day Dream’ NCT 127 deliver well-executed chill and smooth pop songs. Close your eyes and let NCT 127 take you on a harmonising journey with their dreamy vocals.
‘Pandora’s Box’ might be one of the cheesiest track on the album and its chorus is just carefree and dreamy. The lyrics were co-penned by Taeyong, Mark, and Johnny.
With ‘Interlude: Neo Zone,’ the album takes a turn into the dark hip-hop. The two tracks following the interlude are what K-HipHop fans are looking for. ‘Mad Dog’ and ’Sit Down!’ feature a hip-hop subunit formed by Mark and Taeyong – they both contributed to the lyrics of ‘Mad Dog’. These two rap heavy tracks, with powerful R&B vocals and trap production, fit NCT 127’s overall image and sound.
Concert banger? ‘Love Me Now’ is here and we can already here the NCTzens fan chanting, “Love me, love me, love me”. The track reminds one of those European club bops and it works.
The soul-infused ‘Love Song’ features something atypical in K-Pop tracks: a chorus sung by the entire team. The lyrics were co-written by Taeyong, Mark, and Johnny.
For ‘White Night’ and ‘Not Alone’ the group took on a minimalistic production and relied on their great vocal skills, especially on ‘White Night’ where each member shines and can show off what makes each of them so unique while their voices blend together beautifully.
“Neo Zone” closing track ‘Dreams Come True’ was released back in January and heavily nods to visuals and sounds of ‘90s R&B boy band ballads.
With “Neo Zone” NCT 127 show the world that they’re no longer K-Pop rookies but well-trained performers who have found and defined their sound and identity.