Block B BASTARZ Exclaim “Help Me” in Latest Release
After a two-year long wait, Block B BASTARZ have finally made their return to the K-Pop scene. After their breakout hit “Zero for Conduct” in 2015, the sub-unit has garnered much attention with each release since, with expectations high. “Help Me” may not be in the same musical realm as their breakout, but it’s definitely worth waiting for.
The Title: “Help Me”
Block B BASTARZ has mastered the jazzy funk genre without question. Upon hearing the title, you may be expecting a sorrowful ballad that pulls at the heartstrings, but I personally was pleasantly surprised to hear the opening modern funky melody. The mid-tempo rhythm is infectious, and the taste of bassline early on in the first verse is a perfect lead up to the particularly catchy chorus that follows. “Help Me” is a track written and produced by P.O., which is easy to decipher based on his usual style. Despite the melancholy lyrics and theme, the lighter funk melody contrasts nicely to make for a compelling release all around.
The trio proves they’re unbothered by restrictions in their 19+ video, with visual images of bloody car crashes and the use of cigarettes portraying a lack of concern with problematic imagery. The lack of light and darker toned colors used throughout the video help to emphasize the darker themes of the song and provide a heavy contrast to the bright melody. Artistically speaking, it’s a nice touch to help the listener understand the darker lyrics without having to actually read them.
I’m a mess. features eight tracks, including a solo song for each member of the trio. Kicking off with “Messed Up,” the track sets up a somber tone with a traditional jazz and blues introduction. While the tempo is rather upbeat, the use of the alto saxophone adds an aspect of longing and loneliness that is reminiscent of the beginnings of jazz music in Harlem. The intro is a perfect setup for the title track “Help Me” that follows, which flows in the jazzy melody and adds the modern funk vibes to switch up the musical portfolio. These two tracks together make for an extremely cohesive start.
The musical tone shifts with pre-release track “From Seoul,” a song written by B-Bomb. The difference between his style and P.O.’s is quite apparent with the two tracks back to back, but that’s not necessarily a criticism. “From Seoul” has a nicer and lighter message of pride in your origin, making it an upbeat and feel-good song that we didn’t know we needed in our lives until now. The track does remain within the same funky genre as the previous tracks, helping to maintain a cohesive sound overall even with the differences in tone.
Next comes along “If Not Me Who,” a smooth, hip-hop-influenced song that has a total tone shift from the beginning of the album. With sensual undertones that fit well with the clean melody, this track is a welcome shift in mood. “Easy” marks the second half of the album and the final trio song, an acoustic track that is much lighter than the beginning of the album and focuses more on the vocals of B-Bomb and U-Kwon. It’s somewhat of an unexpected shift, but it still somehow works well with the rest of the album.
The first of the solo tracks is B-Bomb’s solo “Recognize,” a track that features rapper punchnello. “Recognize” has a mellow tone similar to “From Seoul,” with a steady rhythm that maintains drive throughout the track. punchnello’s verse is a nice addition that offers a bit more depth to the song that would otherwise have repetitive vocal lines from B-Bomb. punchnello’s brand of rapping also lends itself well to the driving melody, making for a well unified song overall.
U-Kwon follows with his solo “Let’s Ride” featuring Ja Mezz. As the title suggests, this song is a perfect fit for summer days and road trips, blasting from the speakers as you travel down the highway. Ja Mezz has a softer rapping tone from punchnello that fits this track perfectly well, adding a unique flavor to the song. Finally, the album concludes with P.O.’s solo “소년처럼,” the only solo without a featured artist on the song. P.O. closes out the album with a traditional lo-fi hip-hop track that has an infectious beat.
All in all, I’m a mess. is a very well-produced and cohesive album. The trio displays their musical prowess both in performance and production with this album, and makes the long two-year hiatus worth the wait.