Album Review: Sticker // NCT 127

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Innovative K-pop group, NCT 127, is back with their third full-length album, Sticker. With a mix of their usual rap heavy styled songs and ballads sprinkled throughout, the record is able to showcase all of the members’ strengths. NCT 127 continues their habit of being experimental with different genres of music and have produced an album that has tracks to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

The title track is the most unconventional of all the songs. SM Entertainment are notorious for their unusual style of song writing, and ‘Sticker’ is no exception. The song is an explosive start to the album and has already divided fans across the world. While many are naming it their favourite release from the group, others find the relentless flute sound jarring and feel that the backing track does not match the pace of the lyrics.

‘Lemonade’ is more fitting of NCT 127’s expected style, with the deep bass providing the perfect backing for both the rap and vocal sections. Containing both Korean and English lyrics, the chorus of ‘Lemonade’ is incredibly addictive and contains subtle references to the band’s past releases, such as ‘Cherry Bomb’. 

The third track, ‘Breakfast’, is reminiscent of past SM boy group songs. In particular, SHINee’s ‘Prism’ and ‘SHIFT’, both from their LP 1 of 1. Mixing both garage and retro synths has given rise to a moreish dance track. This song was seemingly curated for Haechan’s distinctive vocal colour, as it matches him perfectly. 

Both tracks ‘Far’ and ‘Bring The Noize’ open up the floor to Mark and Taeyong, whose raps are the highlight of the songs. Something that NCT 127 always do well is managing to create hip-hop based tracks that complement their vocalists – despite its mismatched genre. Their ability to cater to both their rappers and vocalists remains unmatched in the industry. 

On the second half of the record, you can find a range of pop-ballads. ‘Dreamer’ offers a more retro feel to the tracklist, which is often common in many SM groups’ discographies. The light trumpets and piano melody adds a sweet and memorable element to the song. ‘Road Trip’ shows off Taeil’s impressive range through his ad-libs, whilst the musicality of ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ merges beautifully with Doyoung and Jungwoo’s vocals. ‘The Rainy Night’ and ‘Focus’ also have their place in the tracklist by displaying NCT 127’s soulful side. 

Even though NCT 127 are praised for their powerful performances and impressive rappers, the group continuously prove to their audience that the group has all-round talents and their ballads solidify their duality. 

The album ends with ‘Promise You’, a song created especially for their dedicated fanbase. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, NCT 127 has not been able to meet supporters in the way they normally would. ‘Promise You’ explores the difficulties of being apart from someone for so long: “while you’re away, no matter who I see, no matter where I go / as if being stopped, time passes by too slow”. The up-beat tone of the track will bring comfort to any fan that has been supporting NCT 127.

Whilst Sticker follows a similar algorithm to most of NCT 127’s previous albums, the record has the perfect 50/50 mix of experimental tracks to ballads. Each member has their moment to impress the audience and are given the opportunity to experiment with new genres. Throughout the album, there are continuous references to NCT 127’s own discography and to those of groups under SM Entertainment. It is clear to any fan that this is an NCT 127 LP – but the group still manages to overcome the high expectations that could burden them. 

Words by Amy Britton


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