Space Opera is a David Bowie tribute album, not unexpected from an explicitly glam rock band. Romantic Punch have successfully fused pop melodies and lyrics with sharp rock instrumentals in the past, but seems to have lost the edge in this album.
Most of the songs are driven by piano chords and have cut back on synths and organs, which partially explains the lack of energy. Another potential aspect is the mastering. Everything seems oddly damp, draining the band of its characteristic bite. The drums in particular sound dull, as if being heard from behind a wall, and the vocals only narrowly avoid the same fate thanks to the singer Bae In Hyuk’s distinctive voice.
Romantic Punch’s strength has been the ability to inject elements of pop into its lyrics and melodies while keeping a hard rock identity. Melody lines are still great in songs like “Zzz,” but in terms of that “punch,” “Fantasy Express” is about as close to it as this album gets, though it had to borrow a guitar riff from “Everlong” by Foo Fighters to do so.
Otherwise, pop influences seem to have overtaken the album. The bluesy guitar solo in “Moonwalk in Kyoto” is not convincing enough for me to say so otherwise, and the ostentatiously glamorous “Cosmic Jive” sounds like a spinoff of “Midnight Cinderella,” a festival favorite by the band.
Romantic Punch is known for its frequent and engaging live performances. I can already see the huge success of “화성에서 만나요 (Life on)” at festivals with people singing along its catchy outro. “Stardust,” reminiscent of Oasis, will place itself with songs like “Hasta La Vista” as a stage closer or encore. In all, this album will probably (hopefully) sound much better live than it does digitally.