Thursday, August 13, 2015

UNITED-We Are The United (2013)


United they stand; divided they fall—so goes that popular motto that applies to practically everything in life. Except I have modified it by replacing the word 'we' with 'they' while I continue my ongoing expedition with the boybands, as that motto especially holds true when it comes to their collective successes often banking on the individual members staying together. So enter this multi-national five-piece troupe—appropriately calling itself UNITED—which first came to my attention three months ago and will stay at my attention for the foreseeable future, now that I've gotten the chance to hear their awesome debut album! Just like many of the young boyband acts to spring up within the past four or five years or so of this 21st century, the strength of THE UNITED's music undoubtedly has to be their exciting, energetic dance/club sound which, in some parts of this globe, is something that equates to them being instant sensations among crowds of fans. For me, it was a definite pick-me-up to jump start my lazy afternoon, getting a charge right away from the opening cut, "So Wicked". And that title is so true on a couple of separate accounts: one, the girl in the life of the songwriter that's got the boy all drunk on love and doing things he normally wouldn't if he wasn't; two, the smashing production of this cut itself, so I strongly I recommend that all of the dance lovers out there add this one to their dance playlists! In fact, you might be able to fill up an entire playlist with songs by these UNITED boys alone, as the next ten following the opener keep the high-energy beats blasting through your stereo speakers! Well, maybe not exactly high-energy on the follow-up, "Yes Man", which has a more chilled, 80's-kinda synthpop feel to it that contrasts from the ultra-glitzy production of everything else. A very nice song "Yes Man" is lyrics-wise, talking about how the songwriter can't always be expected to be the girl's dashing superhero every time she wants him to be; that's just reality. Then there's the thrilling cut that I'd nominate to be THE UNITED's signature anthem: "Stay Young". It would make sense that a bunch of young guys who are feeling carefree and on top of the world would have a song penned for them with such a title, wouldn't it? So would a song talking about gettin' in on with a special girl on special night on this album's eighth track. There are fun times to be had all throughout "Pop", one of those filler kinda cuts that gives you something to bop to for 4+ minutes. But it's so addicting, particularly with those funky instrumental jazz breaks and one of the guys' vocal looping of 'pop-pop-pop-pop-pop' alongside the bombastic dance rhythm, plus that cheeky 'who's your daddy?' blurted out somewhere in the final movement. Similar voice effects highlight the production to "Before I Cry"—that choppy, distorted looping of just the letter 'I' before the main beat sweeps in. Besides that, the song represents one of the more somber moments lyrics-wise for the UNITED boys. Wanting to be hidden from the light as a result of falling for the same old lies..... Even more somber themes back on "Stranded", where the desolate feeling created by the lyrics is enhanced by the accompanying beautifully mellow orchestral instrumentals, But it's that trancey rhythm that really digs its hooks into me here! And for that same reason I was hooked to "Stranded" is why I loved "Reason To Love" so much. I like how there's that building up in the background to the full-out trance beat right from the beginning! Yet it's not just all trance and dance with these UNITED boys; they come together to bring you a trio of slower-tempo gems to close the show. "Song For You" is a real heart-warmer; I'm wondering if there are other remixes to it, as it's indicated here to be an acoustic version? I have the same curiosity about the lovely piano-driven piece "Love Love Love", as it's indicated here to be the English version; I'm curious if they've recorded this song in other languages as well? As for the twinkly sweet, "Baby I Love You", it just makes the heart glow. I'm so happy now that "We Are The United" didn't remain as a Japan-only release. While us boyband lovers always hold out hope that more of the older boybands from the past will someday reunite, I truly do hope that THE UNITED stays united in the meantime:

1. So Wicked
2. Yes Man
3. Stay Young
4. Stranded
5. Pop
6. Stars
7. Heart Beating
8. This Night
9. Before I Cry
10. Reason To Love
11. Hollow
12. Song For You (Acoustic)
13. Love Love Love (English Version)
14. Baby I Love You

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