This is from Allkpop, yeah really. And it makes sense, surprisingly.
It has almost become a custom for SM Entertainment’s releases, be it a
singles, mini, or full length album, to spare any semblance of cohesion
from one song to the next. From TVXQ down to f(x), there has been at
least one instance in their musical career where any one of their
released albums made little to no sense as a collective. Even more
confusing is that the idols who are slammed with a cluster of
nonsensical songs are those with a very obscure direction in music, and
that has been the case with f(x).
On straight musical terms, f(x) lack a true sense of identity as a
girl group in K-pop. The songs they have released are of course theirs
because the name “f(x)” is attached to them, but smear that off and
these songs could fall in the hands of practically any other Korean girl
group; SNSD, their label mates, could easily take any
of f(x)’s songs and call them their own because both girl groups seem to
have overlapping styles.
The only glaring difference is f(x)’s Amber, the residential tomboy
in K-pop. Alas, her role would be overwhelmingly strong had she a more
vital role in f(x), musically.
“Pinocchio” opens with “Danger,” the lead
single. The pseudo-edgy song is a drilling, continuous spiral of very
staccato verses and melodies. You can hear that it wants to get stuck
in your head, but it almost defeats the purpose by reducing itself to
too simple of a hook. If you can recall the very first time you
listened to this song, and if, perhaps, it crossed your mind that it
sounded a little plain – well, there’s a reason why that is: ”Danger” is plain in every way, shape, and form of the word.
The obvious reason is because f(x) are singing just about the same note through the entire song.
This song is so simple that a child could learn to play it on a piano in about one minute. It’s that mundane down to the instrumental, and the perfect description for “Danger” would be one-note.
A fantastic rap break would have lifted some of the redundancy, but
Amber doesn’t get more than one line in before the nail and hammer
return for the finish.
As previously mentioned, this album wouldn’t be an SM spawn had the lead single been followed by something vastly different. “Sweet Witches”
swoops in after three minutes of 4/4 counts to recall the same bubbly
details that were sprinkled in f(x)’s “NU ABO” mini album. They felt
weird then and they feel weird now.
I say this because f(x) could actually work off of the urban-pop
style they occasionally go for (and make it work), but they keep being
whisked away to la la-land instead, and it’s simply unnatural and
unconvincing when it happens. This is their third physical release and
f(x) are still performing trial and errors with every style in the book (Sweet Witches).
As the title describes, “Sweet Witches” is somewhat mysterious and
mystifying with a thick coat of sugary voices. It’s a very upbeat tune,
and just when the broken record seems to be forever stuck on the chorus –
“binggeureu binggeureu binggeul binggeul binggeureu binggeureu” – f(x) drop their lollipops and witch’s brew and follow it up with “Dangerous,” a cartoon-ish song that refers to cheesy ’secret agent’ noises for added effect and interest.
Like in the previous song, f(x) are forcefully squeezing an unnerving
amount of infant-squeals to transition from one part of a verse to the
next. Fine, but the believability will keep getting lost as the “aegyo”
is inserted in songs that don’t necessarily call for it, and this is one
of them (Dangerous).
Trailing behind “Dangerous” is “Beautiful Goodbye.” This
song is one of two ballads on the entire album, and we finally get a
glimpse of f(x)’s vocal prowess. “Beautiful Goodbye” is calming, simple,
and basically the typical fairytale SM ballad; nothing mind-blowing,
but this is a good spot to point out that the members of f(x) aren’t bad
singers. At all.
SM does a good job of picking out voices that will work well together
as a unit, and f(x)’s definitely do. Every member has that smooth and
versatile color that works well in commercial music – put them all
together and you get this one clean voice ready to be shipped and sold
to the masses.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and even if the
pudding is a vacant slow song like this one, all five ladies managed to
sing it well; down to Amber, who usually doesn’t get more than a word
in of rap, let alone any singing, but here she’s clearly testing the
waters out just like Minho of SHINee circa “Lucifer” 2010 (Beautiful Goodbye).
“Gangsta Boy” is the fifth song on the album, and
from the title alone you’d think this was the next industrial single, or
at least something that resembled the style of “Mr. Boogie,” but the truth couldn’t be more far off.
“Gangsta Boy” is the most agitating song on the album, in my opinion.
There is no substance whatsoever. It doesn’t relate with the lead
single and it feels like a complete blind item within an already numbing
collection of songs. There isn’t a single saving grace in this
tropical-meets-psychiatric-ward-meets-a-holiday-vacation-tune from outer
space, and it pains me to even go that far to describe this song
because didn’t we just finish saying f(x) have talent?
As the album dwells past the half way point, we’re welcomed by “Love,”
a sign that maybe there is in fact some loose strands in this album
that make sense with one another; “Sweet Witches”, meet your match.
“Love” is novelty at its best. It sounds freakishly similar to something that would have been found on the “Wizards of Waverly Place” soundtrack, with its cheeky “na-na, na, na, na-na”
and quirky nuances. It doesn’t have much of anything else going for it,
mainly because the form and overall structure is absolutely
vapid. There’s no direction; it feels like we’re walking in a giant
circle, and sorry to say, that’s been the case with just about every
song so far (and every one henceforth).
“Stand Up!” is in the same vein as “Love”, except
this is showcasing the prettiness of f(x). We’ve seen pretty, cute,
extra-cute, semi-dark, semi-serious – what’s next? (Love, Stand Up!)
“My Style” follows soon after, throwing all
convention (and cohesion) into the wind. f(x) find themselves chanting
in this march as horns chime in and a decent beat gives this album a
well needed dose of pace, and it’s the one time f(x) convince in their
delivery. There’s a tiny piece of f(x) from the past in “My Style”, and
for the first time they’re not relying 100% on gimmicks or corny themes
to sell a song. It’s really a shame because it took eight songs for it
to happen, and it’s still just a decent effort (My Style).
Rounding out the ballads is “So Into U“, and if you
manage to get this far into the album, you’ll find that this song isn’t
that bad. Personally, I despise obvious key changes, especially the kind
used in a lazy effort to hit a climax in a pop song, and my heart is
hurting right now because they’re all over this album. Having said that,
this is one of the better songs on “Pinocchio”.
Luna sounds great, as always, and I refrained from pointing that out
earlier because her main role is to belt out a high note just to belt
out a high note. That’s just what SM decided to do with her, which is a
shame since she has a beautiful voice. As does Amber, who gets her
rightful moment in this song to let the world know that she can actually
hold a note in tune.
The final song on this album is “Lollipop,” which is a Korean remake of f(x)’s previous endeavor with MIC (Chinese group). For this re-issue, f(x) have employed the help of label mates SHINee, the group that these ladies are supposedly modeled after.
This collaboration sounds rather promising, but as the song unfolded, so did my hopes for an epic duet.
The vocal treatment on everyone involved in this song is
cringe-worthy. They say less is more, and in this case, f(x)’s producers
could have taken note from a certain other Lollipop song-on-song
progression, because this version is hectic and unbearably
one-dimensional. The mix seems off too, as I’ve noticed on other songs
on this album, because several members from both idol groups get buried
and lost among everything going on (Lollipop).
In general, I have yet to understand who f(x) are as artists. If
their “NU ABO” mini album had me confused last year, this album just
about inked a giant question mark on my forehead. Sure, some of their
songs have been alright to some, but when it comes to piecing together
an album of this magnitude, it all has to make sense. That’s just how it
works. And unless f(x) were going for a hefty mix-tape, this album
failed to get any kind of message across.
There’s simply no identity to f(x)’s music, and where there’s no
identity, there is no life, and that’s exactly (not to mention ironic)
how “Pinocchio” reads: lifeless as a doll.
There is no proper foundation to develop something magical in f(x) as
idols, at least not when their music fails to define them in
this hyper-competitive music industry. And at this point, not even
having wonderful singers with great voices can save their credibility as
Overall, “Pinocchio” is cheesy, redundant, an ear sore, and absolutely, 100% frivolous through and through.
Overall Rating: 2.1/5
this is how I feel about this album as well.