f(x) has returned testing the waters as a foursome with their new sound in 4 Walls.
I don’t think I am disappointed, but I was definitely not 100% here for this song when it came out. I actually had to take a day to think about it, and ultimately forgot about it yesterday. Today, I listen to 4 Walls, and actually appreciate it more.
4 Walls is the song I had been waiting for from f(x) ever since they started the whole art heaux image (which goes as far back as NU ABO). The impression that SM was teetering with was the fact that f(x) are alternative idols. You don’t want the same predictable dance and bright pop sound? Come to f(x)…despite it just being the packaging that was different. With each release post Nu ABO, their sound has progressively gotten more varied yet focused at the same time. By the time they hit their second full album, Pink Tape, f(x) had gained the image of being artsy…it just never truly translated into their music completely. Red Light remedied that, playing with more aggressive less K pop oriented sounds. 4 Walls, the song, seems to cement this with sparse and less animated but still bright sound.
The song is a mix of restraint over a vibe inducing beat. There are a lot of fun harmonies happening, but they only add to the sweet atmosphere. I think it is a safe thing to say that the song does not strive for dynamic or exciting. I like it where it actually is. I can still dance to this of course, but I can also sit back and listen to it. The song does pick up at the end in a way to bring some life to it, but overall that feels like the responsibility of the production and not the group. In fact I find that f(x) seems to take a back seat in the song for the most part. Sure we hear their voices, and the chorus is them. But there are moments in the song where the four of them just melt in with the music a little too well, to the point where they take a backseat.
This is more or less a consistent complaint I have with the group. Regardless of vocal prowess, a group that comes off passive on their songs is a group that can be hard to comprehend.
I get f(x), and I can see what they try for…but the execution on their end can be hard to digest…because sometimes it is not a lot. That’s what made Red Light something. The group gave a good performance with edge to it. It fit the song. Without even having to look at the lyrics I could hear aggression, some force. When it comes to 4 Walls, I get the feeling that the passive floating quality (that they usually have musically) was intentional. The problem comes when they lose focus musically, and in turn just disappear.
The music video fits the nu-art heaux aesthetic that f(x) have been peddling for the last few years. Thankfully, this time SM dedicates the group to it fully. The music video is some tumblr aesthetic dream, and probably has been gifed to death. While I think it is a very pretty video, I found myself wondering what was truly the point? I mean, yeah they are pretty, the instagram approved filters they used were pretty, the scenery and overall imagery was pretty…but the video does not make sense. In fact, I would dare say the video is kind of distracting.
Overall, I can’t say I am disappointed, but I do think the song’s overall lack of excitement and restraint confused me. I didn’t know where I stood with the song, but almost kind of not liking it. While I do think there are points where the song doesn’t work, specifically when it comes to f(x) themselves, I actually like this.
And yes I completely ignored the similarities between 4 Walls and View.
Source: SMTOWN Youtube