The latest NCT album, Resonance Pt. 1, introduces the album with “Make A Wish (Birthday Wish).” The rhythmic whistling within the addictive chorus of the song enters your subconscious. The members that contribute to this song differ from the lineup that NCTzens are used to. The unit on this song is comprised of Doyoung and Jaehyun (both of NCT 127 and NCT U), Taeyong (who’s in both of those groups as well as SuperM), Lucas (SuperM and Chinese group WayV), Xiaojun (WayV), Jaemin (NCT Dream), and the group’s newest member, Shotaro, in his debut.
“Misfit” delivers with an explosive rap collective. Mark makes his entrance, leading the pack with elite lyricism and spitting prowess. Inspired by the rap flows of the Beastie Boys’ 1986 album Licensed to Ill, the throwback vibe is evident in the group’s delivery. With such a large group involved—23 in all—it can be easy to lose track of who’s doing what. This song includes Hendery and Yangyang (WayV), Mark and Jeno (NCT Dream), Johnny (NCT 127), Taeyong, and Sungchan.
The strategy of rotating members in and out sometimes works, as on the first two songs, but not always. “Volcano” misses the mark. The vocals are up to par but leaves the majority of NCT standing around, not doing much.
“LightBulb” slows the pace with soft piano playing intertwining with the chiming of a tambourine and airy percussion. “Dancing in the Rain” has a similar lo-fi feel, conveying a coffee shop atmosphere and accompanied by a snappy, groovy bass. While the first half of NCT Resonance Pt. 1 is ho-hum, the album gets better on its back half. “Interlude: Past to Present” serves as the dividing line between the two half.
This vaporwave-like song emits glitchy electronic sounds that have been popularized (again) by artists like Charli XCX and 100 Gecs. The only downside is its interlude length. The group should have found a way to extend it! Then comes “Déjà Vu,” headed up by the members of NCT Dream, as well as Mark, a graduate of the group. It’s one of the most cohesive songs on NCT Resonance Pt. 1 and recalls the group’s early material, such as “Chewing Gum” and “My First and Last.”
WayV’s “Nectar” hits the bullseye with execution evoking 2000s R&B themes. It’s also one of the most easily danceable cuts on the entire album. The following “Music, Dance” is no different, as it does exactly what the title suggests. The song’s ’80s hip-hop beat adds depth and evokes images of late-nights drives.
“Faded in My Last Song” provides a somber piano melody over a trap beat that somehow meshes to create harmonic bliss. While not officially the album closer—that falls on the English version of “Make a Wish (Birthday Song)”—“From Home” is the more proper bookend to NCT Resonance Pt. 1 by playing to the strengths of the group and its members—while SM Entertainment groups are known for their vocal prowess, NCT singers shine brightest on R&B numbers. The execution on the new album is reminiscent of NCT’s older brother groups like TVXQ and Shinee.