Tohoshinki [Five In The Black] (Second Japanese Album)

September 19, 2008

ZION
Sky
Begin
Choosey Lover
DEAD END
High time
PROUD
Yakusoku (約束; Promise)
miss you
“O” – Sei・Han・Gou (“O”‐正・反・合; Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis)
I’ll be there (Japanese Version)
Step by Step
Hello again

The album starts with the rock-esque and sorta techno-ish sounding ZION. It’s not a bad way to start a album, but the song is rather irritating. I don’t like the arrangement, it’s nothing special and I hate the cheap sounding beeps and clicks in the background. The vocal performances from all with the exception of Junsu who sounded all right was very strained and just made the song a chore to listen to. It’s rather generic.

The next track is one I like but have a hard time taking seriously, Sky. I hated this pop song when it first came out, because I thought it was incredibly corny. I still do. It starts off with YooChun rapping, awfully and he says something like: ‘cuckoo beans’. The song is all right it has a light and breezy arrangement that really oozes summer and the vocal performances are nice and the harmonies where spot on during the chorus and the ‘oh’ parts; YunHo comes in with his own rap which is even more awful than YooChun’s and makes you say: ‘Thank goodness he’s hot and can dance!’ this song is so-so.

I love Tohoshinki/DBSK’s ballads just as much as I love their rnb tunes and this next track is definitely my favorite, Begin is such a lovely ballad. The lyrics to this song are so heartfelt that it’s almost impossible to keep a dry eye if you know what they’re saying or are reading along to subtitles. JaeJoong has the main vocals in this song and really his voice is just perfect; smooth and light and it’s almost as if this song was made for him. I feel as if JaeJoong could have pulled off a better vocal performance, but live he really does this song justice so I won’t complain about the studio version. The arrangement is just beautiful; Begin is one of the best songs in their entire discography.

I absolutely hate YunHo’s part in the beginning of the next track Choosey Lover. It’s so corny, man, it’s so lame: ‘set the base!’ weak! Other than that this song is gold. When this first came out I tried not to like it, but damn it’s such an addicting song that you can’t help but to like it. I love the way the guys sung their verses, sort of high and quick. The hook is definitely catchy as well as the chorus that makes you want to get up and dance. Damn good song, one of my favorites.

The next track is in a sense what ZION should have been. DEAD END goes down the same path as ZION music wise only more consistent and less all over the place. The arrangement is nothing special, your typical edgy-rock kind, but it sticks. The vocal performances are much better in this as well since they don’t sound so half-assed. They have better rock-influenced tracks, but this isn’t bad, it’s pretty all right.

If I thought Sky was cheesy nothing compares to this next track, High time. It’s generic, cheesy, high-energy pop at it’s most mediocre. I can’t imagine what made them go into the studio, record this track and actually decide to put it on the album. The vocal performances are pretty nice and I think they took this song more seriously than ZION, because their harmonies were pretty good. The arrangement is forgettable, but the song isn’t; It’s so lame that it’s memorable: ‘high time, get your groovin’ on!’ (sigh) at least I laughed.

I’d have to say that one of the most touching Tohoshinki songs I have ever heard is the next track, PROUD. It seems to define them as a group, the bonds they forged in held and how far they have come from eating ramen homeless on the street to being the most successful boy group in Korean history. It’s rather nostalgic. The arrangement is gorgeous and is so bluesy and melancholy. The vocal performances were top-notch and my favorite part would have to be the, ‘proud of your love’ parts of the chorus; beautiful, heart-warming song.

The next track is the rather interesting, Yakusoku (約束; Promise). It’s a nice little, mid-tempo, pop track that has some nice vocals and a pretty simple arrangement.

I didn’t expect to like this next track miss you, but I did. It sounds like a video game and it gives the song a very interesting effect. Their voices seem somewhat digitally enhanced and I thought that was a nice touch. miss you to me is a more better version of Somebody to Love. It’s one of their more rare and creative songs.

Ugh. I really hate Korean turned Japanese, or Japanese turned Korean songs, it just seems lazy and plays as filler. The next track, “O” – Sei・Han・Gou (“O”‐正・反・合; Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis) is just that, filler and not very good filler. It’s awful. It’s like they took out all the ‘oomph’! of the original and turned it into four minutes of static, water-downed chaos. The whole track played like distraction and is just a train wreck of an originally very exciting song.

The next track is another Korean turned Japanese song, but unlike the previous track I’ll be there is a lot more bearable. In my opinion the Korean version is still better, but this version is still pretty decent.

It’s like Sky all over again only a tad less carefree and little more cavity-inducing. Step by Step is a song by Tohoshinki I absolutely refuse to like. A generic pop track that just makes you cringe with how overly happy-go-lucky it is. The vocals are nice and the arrangement is pretty so-so, but nothing can change the fact that this track is just unbearably cheesy and not a good kind of cheesy, but a: ‘um… what were they thinking?’ image destroyer kind of cheesy.

The last track on the album is a welcome relief from the weakness that was the previous track. Hello again is a song that I am very fond of, because it is just so heart-warming and really just embodies friendship to me. I love the title, it’s so touching, but sad in a way and both of those elements are displayed perfectly in the song. I love the arrangement which is very quiet but sweet. The vocal performances are wonderful as well and I love the ‘la, la, la’s’ towards the end as well as the talking and the laughter towards the song going out it reminded me of B2K’s last track off their Pandemonium! album: Boys 4 Life.

-GRADE: B+
Rating: **1/2 stars

Tohoshinki’s second Japanese album Five In The Black is a step up from their previous rather disappointing debut Japanese album Heart, Mind & Soul. There seems to be more variety on this album, the tracks aren’t so generic and boring. Choosey Lover and Begin are perfect examples of how their Japanese music has improved and it only seems to be getting better. I was still slightly disappointed with this album, I don’t really like their pop songs, because they always come off so awkward; those are more Super Junior oriented who can pull off songs like, High time and Step by Step. With Tohoshinki it just makes them look foolish and immature. They’re a more serious group in my eyes and should stick to their rnb, ballads and somewhat rock-ish tracks, because those are the songs that they do best, also I wish they would be more experimental, because miss you and Hello again are very stand-out on this album and makes me take Five In The Black a lot more serious than I did when I first heard this album. It’s not bad at all.

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