After the release of their latest single in both English and Korean, with different music videos for each version, Seoul-based group NCT 127 dropped their latest album Friday (Oct. 12). A dual-faceted LP with 11 tracks, Regular-Irregular is the boy band’s first LP.
Fronted by the Latin pop and trap-infused “Regular,” NCT 127’s latest album is cinematic in its K-pop soundscape, jumping genres as the 10 men expound on reality and fantasy. Split in two halves, Regular-Irregular is bisected by the aptly named “Interlude: Regular to Irregular,” which emphasizes the split between the thematic elements of the album as the group explores reality and dreams.
The album begins with the welcoming intro track “City 127,” which features a piano-driven melody and a swaying, snapping beat that blends the group’s harmonizing with breezy raps. After being invited into their world, the album’s first variant of “Regular” appears. The Korean one appears to address their current state as a group trying to make its way in the world in contrast to the hopeful, goal-oriented swagger expressed in the English alternative; each focus on money, but the Korean addresses the reality of their world versus the luxurious lifestyle expressed in the English.
Unlike many Korean songs re-released by K-pop bands in other languages, the English version of “Regular” isn’t a emulation of the Korean one but rather acts as the opposite side of the same coin, offering something new while keeping the same vibe. To reflect their differences, each of the two parts of the album — three songs each if you don’t include the singles, the intro, the interlude and a bonus track first heard before NCT was formed in 2016 — appear to mimic the song associated with their version of “Regular”; the Korean-associated trio of songs are sentimental and mellow, while the English-associated three vacillate between boisterousness and ambience.
Following the Korean version of “Regular,” NCT 127 expresses a desire to be loved in the dreamy house dance track “Replay (PM 01:27),” a sequel to last year’s “Back 2 U (AM 01:27)” from their Limitless album, which went to No. 1 on the World Albums chart. Next is the smooth, R&B vibes of “Knock On” with its lush vocals, which is in turn followed by the soft, jazzy ballad “No Longer.” The album’s then split by the ASMR-esque, sonic shift of “Interlude: Regular To Irregular,” which starts off with the members reflecting on their career and its beginnings, before a sudden shift into discordance.
The album’s Irregular songs kick off with the gritty, aggressive hip-hop tone of “My Van” as they rap about others looking them. It’s followed by a Korean remake of their groovy “Come Back,” released earlier this year on their first Japanese EP Chain, which leads into the pulsating, ethereal slow jam “Fly Away With Me.” The English version of “Regular” closes out the section. The album closes out with the dynamic, EDM-trap hybrid dance track “Run Back 2 U,” which was first introduced as “Bassbot” and featured in a dance video released by NCT’s label SM Entertainment in 2015 featuring six then-trainees, four of whom are part of the current NCT 127 lineup.
As a first full-length album, the theatrical flavor of NCT 127’s Regular-Irregular showcases both the group’s artistry and skill through its diversity of sounds and experimental approach towards an album concept. It helps solidify their style amid the NCT collective; NCT 127 is one of three currently active units under SM Entertainment’s NCT banner along with NCT U and NCT Dream.
Take a listen to NCT 127’s Regular-Irregular album here: