For the longest time, my impression of DBSK was the Asian, dancing version of Westlife - the number of members hits left and right with the longevity of legends. Musically though I thought they had nothing in common with big British boybands come and gone, specifically Blue and Westlife. They seemed way too K-pop-y for me to say that they were like WL, Blue or BSB. However when I finally got a hold of their Korean discography, the only songs I was listening to were the ones I'd heard previously - I only got those albums for certain songs.
Out of curiosity and lack of a better choice to listen to while I was out a while ago, I put on DBSK's sophomore album, Rising Sun. What I heard shocked me and gave me a blast of enlightenment.
Just by listening to the first damn song of the album I came to a conclusion - they're more like Westlife and Blue than I originally thought they were. In fact, they're really like a cross between the two. They have the amount of hits and possible longevity that Westlife have always have but their early albums were like a cross between Blue and BSB. What they've become now is a lot more logical than what those two Western bands have.
In simple words, DBSK right now are what Blue could've and Westlife should've been at this point of their careers. Yes, I'm a Westlife fan first and foremost and I dedicated over two years of my life entirely to following their every move but if something's not right I will criticize - they're not perfect and they never will be. Westlife were really close to getting their music to where DBSK's is right now - Turnaround was solid proof that they could do something other than ballads and (damn good but still too early 2000's-ish) Savan Kotecha songs. But NO, the following year we got a Rat-pack album and it was ballads all the way for them.
You listen to this album and then you listen to Mirotic (released 3 years later) - that's exactly where Westlife should be right now. Heck, even slave-driving Lee Soo Man gives the guys freedom to write their own songs that get on their damn albums! What does a band who's sold over 50 Million albums and has FOURTEEN UK number one singles get? Simon Cowell choosing the lamest, corniest and most boring ballads ever, not letting them write their own songs for fear of not earning any money and Louis Walsh sucking up to him because he wants more money and airtime on The X Factor AND ignoring them because his beloved JLS had a number one single and suddenly they're his first priority. No harsh feelings towards JLS though - love their songs.
What still stumps me though is how they could have these Western boyband song-sounding stuff AND K-pop signatures in the same album, promote the unmistakably K-pop ones and still have a cohesive record that sounds good right now. That's one question I still can't answer.
Because I've already said way too much, I won't go through all the tracks - the stuff here are the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ones on the album.
Rising Sun is one of those distinctly K-pop songs to my ears. The emphasis on dance, rap and the way the song was put together say it's most probably Korean. It's also very, very different from the previous two songs arrangement wise - everything's big, epic and processed. The melody during the parts where there actually is one (when I first heard this song I was put off by the amount of rap parts, long instrumental intro and strange dance break but I'll get to that later.) are very good - I'd love to hear them re-arrange this with a much simpler backing track. The dance break is strange and a complete opposite of the song itself - sounds like a cross between Indian and stereotypical island-y and it has rap and a bit of singing. However, the hook is infectious and the instrumental epic enough to sound like the world domination song it was.
Love Is All I Need was the song that made me curious about the rest of the album because it sounds so much like a 98 Degrees song mixed with bits NSYNC's Music of My Heart sung in Korean. SERIOUSLY! The treatment/production of this song is so American boyband as well - the instrumental at the start with the synths and sparkly stuff, how they mixed and mastered the vocals to make it sound like a lot of voices together not one voice on lead and the rest following like they do now and the break down towards the end. Also the fact that the chorus doesn't have all these high notes is very boyband-y because I know some boybands did that because they can't sing but I highly doubt that's the case with DBSK. See for yourself below:
Beautiful Life sounds generic at the start but it got to the bridge and I was like Why does this sound like a BSB song?. Once the chorus hit I was jumping up and down - it does really sound like an American boyband song. It was when I listened to this song that I was convinced they actually qualify success and music-wise to be the gigantic early 2000's boyband representative of Asia. The actual song in the video below starts at about 1:33 and the first part is this strange gimmick - skip that and go straight to the song.
Tonight was the reason I got this album in the first place - it just screams brilliance. The song is purely to show off these guy's voices and ranges and nothing else but it's a very good thing, actually. The whistle (c/o damn brilliant voiced Jaejoong) and infinite ad-libs with high notes being thrown out left and right towards the end are gigantic giveaways. The melody has a certain level of difficulty and the notes aren't for your average guy because dammit - you have Junsu whose voice sounds the same singing high and mid-range notes then you have Jaejoong who just hits those high notes like they're nothing. But of course you have Changmin who's the official scream-er in the band just literally screaming his head off. Good song.
One of the other reasons why I call DBSK the Westlife of Asia is because of their impeccable to the point of brilliant a capella work. Always There is an example of one of their hands-down most brilliant a capella work ever. There's a ton of live clips floating around YouTube but this recorded version is just jaw-dropping - it will really leave you speechless. I do wish they'd get rid of that snapping though and show me just how good they are with tempo because that's one of the main points of a capella work - not depending on instruments other than your voice to sing together and apart!
The rest of the album is good but these songs are, in my humble opinion, the reasons why DBSK deserve to be the early 2000's boyband representative of Asia and why they're so damn good at what they do.
No sum-up because I didn't feature all the songs or even half the album. As a whole, 4.6/5 but if I were to score these songs alone, it would be a 4.999999999/5!