B.A.P released their new mini album Carnival February 22, 2016. The album consists of six songs that show a different side of B.A.P that has won praise from the Korean public. Their turn toward brighter music is met with mixed reviews internationally, but it’s mainly due to fans who wish B.A.P would only do darker concepts. B.A.P, however, are a jack-of-all-trades group and explore different aspects of themselves even if that exploration is met with mixed reviews. Carnival definitely is a fresh approach. As a whole, the album has more of an anime OST-feel than something typical of B.A.P, but is that necessarily a bad thing?
The album kicks off with “Today,” a percussion-heavy track that has an epic quality. The instrumentals swell to consume the listener with feeling. The vocals are soft compared to the instrumentals to create an interesting dynamic. B.A.P’s harmonious chorus furthered the epic feeling. The song is only an opening, but it feels like it should have been much more! The track feels like it could be an opening to a TV show too, so it has some versatility.
“Carnival” is the second track that has a strong party vibe. With a name like “Carnival,” the assumption is that the song is going to be cute and cheerful. It is cheery, but it doesn’t have the cute vibe that’s expected. This fun track has a solid beat that definitely makes the listener want to sway along. In fact, dancing is a strong probability and highly involuntary! The chorus is addictive and one that even non-Korean speakers can sing along to with ease. The lyrics are simple too, covering traveling and how performing has a carnival vibe. What’s cool about the song is that B.A.P sounds more like choir boys than an idol group, presenting a different style than what’s expected for a song like this.
The title track, “Feel So Good,” is the perfect way to kick off the spring and summer season. “Feel So Good” is perfectly retro with strong rap performances from Bang Yongguk and Zelo. Daehyun’s vocals brim with personality, while Jongup, Himchan, and Youngjae all show better control over their vocals. The song has adorable lyrics that speak of awkward cuteness and love, but they also hint at a double entendre meaning. The strong elements are in the bridge and chorus because they help make the song more memorable. “Feel So Good” feels so right for B.A.P’s vocal abilities as it feels more tailored to each member’s strengths. This is a definite go-to song for a bad day!
“Go” continues the feel-go theme with a perky, almost whistle-like opening. The interesting element of “Go” is how the tempo shifts throughout the song. The quicker moments provide catchiness, while slower moments draw the listener in to pay attention to the lyrics. The lyrics cover wanting to be with a person and wanting to go anywhere with them. It’s a charming song that, like “Feel So Good,” highlights some of B.A.P’s vocal strengths. The “party, party rock” portions feel a little out of place considering the song’s theme, especially since these lines are shouted. With that taken out of consideration, “Go” is a solid song.
The fifth track, “Albatross,” sounds way different in the audio preview TS Entertainment released. This song has anime OST written all over it thanks to its rock beat and affirmative message. The chorus has this hopeful sound like “I can do anything!” In fact, “Albatross” is a positive song about soaring above negativity. B.A.P’s songs with a positive message often resonate well with fans, so this song should be no exception. For some, the beat may sound familiar as it almost sounds like Good Charlotte’s “The Anthem.” The songs could be sibling songs; or if you know someone who likes Good Charlotte and they don’t know B.A.P, “Albatross” could be a great introduction song. However, while “Albatross” is an ear-catching song, it’s not wholly original.
The album wraps up with “My Girl.” “My Girl” is a nice way to end the album. It has beautiful, romantic instrumentals that make the song feel as lovely as the lyrics. Like with “Albatross,” it’s not a 100 percent original sound although, like the other songs on Carnival, it fits B.A.P’s vocal range. Every member plays a role in making the song great. The soft nuances from Himchan, Daehyun, Youngjae, and Jongup add romance while Zelo and Yongguk remind us that the song is, indeed, by B.A.P with their somewhat harder-sounding raps. Everything comes together nicely to make “My Girl” shine.
Although there are originality issues and some anime OST feels, Carnival is a strong album for B.A.P as they continue to branch out and try new things. It’s great that they don’t pigeonhole themselves. This album may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the diehard fan, it’s a nice addition to the B.A.P discography. Carnival earns a 3.5 out of a possible 5.