K-pop starlets NCT have been enjoying big sales and high streaming numbers on their debut (single The 7th Sense already has 17 million streams on Spotify alone), but not even that can save 2018 Empathy from being a misfire.
Dream In A Dream is by far the most powerful song, sonically and lyrically. The Chinese-sounding harp-synth tones sparkle and echo to create the perfectly atmospheric backdrop for a memorable and meaningful hook.
Meanwhile, Baby Don’t Stop and Touch are half-decent summer festival anthems, even if they shamelessly pull from Justin Timberlake’s playbook.
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Everything else is weak. Tracks like Boss, Black On Black, The 7th Sense and Go all use tired trap beats, as the gangsta and mumble raps all incessantly fight for attention to the point of nausea.
What’s worse, NCT throw in so many musical curveballs it’s more confusing than exciting. Boss, for example, flits randomly between trap, lo-fi club, ambient, gang vocals and glossy soul pop.
Piano ballad Timeless and the Kelly Clarkson-esque Without You have the potential to be good, but suffer from overly-theatrical vocals that are more forced than sincere.
It’s hard to feel any sympathy for NCT when Empathy is far from good.
Edited by Karly Cox