Toxic ‘First Bridge’ Album Review

I said a few weeks ago that I was going to do an actual album review and as much as I should be recapping my dramas, I really wanted to get this post written finally.

In 2011, KBS (one of the big 3 stations in South Korea) debuted it’s first ever band survival program Top Band. MVIBO has the entire first season with English subtitles on their website—I highly recommend it. The second season (due to horrible editing and limited funding) is also available without subtitles, but it’s not nearly as good even though they had some great indie bands. Anywho, Toxic was the winners from the first season.

Kim Jung Woo, Kim Seul Ong

Kim Jung Woo (left), Kim Seul Ong (right)

Toxic is a duo that consists of a drummer and a guitarist. Both members can also play the keyboard. Even though there is really only 3 instruments in any given song, their sound is very unique and complete with the help of an amp to add a bass (guitar) sound and the help of a Kaoss Pad (how they get their sound effects). Guitarist Kim Jung Woo (1987) is the main vocalist, while drummer Kim Seul Ong (1992) does backup vocals.

Toxic released their debut mini album First Bridge on October 11, 2012. Their title track music video was uploaded to the band’s official YouTube account on October 12.

Toxic - First BridgeFirst Bridge – October 11, 2012

  1. Get Out
  2. 외로워 [Oeroweo; Lonely]
  3. 질려!! [Jilryeo; Fed Up!!];
  4. No More
  5. Get Out (Remix)
  6. 외로워 (Inst.) [Oeroweo (Inst.); Lonely]

The album on a whole showcases a softer sound from Toxic than what I was used to thanks to their performances on Top Band. Of course, they are trying to make their music a bit more mainstream to try to survive. South Korea does have an indie/underground band culture more so than anyone would know since idols pretty much dominate the music scene, so to try to survive, bands have to do what they can to appeal to the masses as a whole. I must say that the boys’ vocals are much smoother in this album. Well, in Top Band their vocals were rougher as they were doing their harder music, plus the judges did comment that Jung Woo (since he was the main vocalist) did need to work on his singing. It was by no means horrible, but he did have some issues as did Seul Ong. This album really showcases stronger vocals over all.

It’s funny. Whenever I hear “Get Out,” I immediately think of twin duo Tasty and their debut song “You Know Me.” It’s got kind of the same opening strains with a funkier sound. This song took awhile to grow on me, but listening to their album over and over again made me fall in love with this opening track.

While the album does have a softer pop element, it does contain the fingerprints of the Toxic I know and love. I absolutely fell in love with the title track “Lonely” from the moment I first heard it. I’ve heard some critics complain that it’s a boring, pop sound, but I don’t think so. While it is repetitive with a very heavy drum beat that pulses through the guitar sound, it’s not bad in any way. If you see them perform this song live…it kicks butt because they make it rock a little harder than the album version. However, I think the softer album version suits the lyrics and it really shows off the loneliness expressed in the lyrics.

The third track “Fed Up!!” definitely has a more pop feel to it and doesn’t really contain the heavier rock instrumental breaks that “Lonely” had. It’s also got a funky sound that I can’t quite place. Not rock. Not straight up pop. It’s good. I think my only complaint about this song is the use of a repeated English phrase. One, the band’s English pronunciation could use a bit more work in this song. Two, the English used isn’t quite proper. Case in point:

It’s nobody’s fault
Nobody’s fault
I hope you to be happy
It’s nobody fault
I’m not worry about you

That is really what they are singing. Oh, I love the song. I really do. It’s just…being a native English speaker and the fact that I majored in English…yeah. I can’t help but notice these things.

After “Fed Up!!” comes “No More.” Again, more of a pop track. Whenever this song comes up on my iPod I always have to check who’s singing it and I’m shocked that it’s Toxic. I won’t lie, the opening just puts me in mind of LEDApple when they go “ooh ooh,” but then Jung Woo starts singing and of course he doesn’t sound like Kyungmin or Han Byul. I’m not sure why, but in the songs of this album, the snare drum in particular really stands out. Not a bad thing at all, but it’s amazing how in every song you can always catch that underlying snare beat.

We then go to “Get Out” remixed. This has a more clubby sound to it than the opening version. I can easily imagine people shuffle dancing to this version. That shuffle dancing club beat was really popular in 2011-2012. I don’t know why. I’m really not a fan of such music because it seems highly repetitive to me. You hear one dance track like that and you’ve pretty much heard them all since they are a variation of a theme. I still like this instrumental track, but not as much as the instrumental version of “Lonely” or the intro version of “Get Out.”

Interesting to note is that while on Top Band, Jung Woo did the majority of the singing. On this album, he and Seul Ong really did divvy up the vocals more, which I won’t complain about. The two have voices that do compliment each other. On a whole, definitely a more pop-rock sound than is Toxic’s norm, but not horrible. Their rock elements are still to be found. I do hope that with their next album they do go back to more of their heavier sound. One big disappointment to me with this min album is the fact that their song “Into the Night” is not on it. I seriously fell in love with that song on Top Band and I’ve watched all their YouTube videos of it.

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