No Reply are a duo from Hongdae, consisting of members Tune (Jeong Wook-jae) and Moment (Kwon Soon-gwan), whose style effectively comprises a richer-sounding play on the ballad archetype. The songs of Beautiful, their third full-length album, are anchored around Moment’s emotive, impactful baritone, sweeping strings, and an omnipresent piano accompaniment. Of course, no ballad-style release would be complete without climactic choruses, and they are found aplenty on Beautiful.
The album opens, closes, and proceeds in a dramatic fashion. “Beautiful,” the title track, kicks off the album with a grand air and a jazzy feel, while “여정,the last song, features an ending with trills and flourishes in the instrumental sections. Tracks are generally intimate, somewhat mellow, but “Reply” and “곁에 있어” are more upbeat and optimistic, perhaps even poppier than their peers. Meanwhile, “눈부셔” starts with some syncopation and rhythmic irregularity. Indeed, one will find the occasional electric guitar on a couple of tracks, which also helps to insert some variation into the overall scheme.
Beautiful, while undoubtedly a pleasant-sounding work, suffers from a few pitfalls. I believe it is a solid work for the ballad genre; the lyrics aren’t revolutionary, but they function well within the framework. No Reply is effective at pulling the heartstrings of those who desire certain amounts of melodrama in their music. However, the songs are formulaic, each following very similar structures; the tempo remains fairly static throughout, and contributes to the tendency of the tracks to blend together in the listener’s mind.
Ultimately, Beautiful is an album that is enjoyable, but also not terribly memorable. No Reply focus on one particular sound, and they do it well, but I’d personally like to see some more diversity in their songwriting.