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Review: f(x) Pay Tribute To The Electronic Dance Music Legacy On '4 Walls' [VIDEO]

By John Chiaverina | November 06, 2015 01:02 PM EST

Last week, KpopStarz editor Jesse Lent made the case for why "Traveller" was the best song on the new f(x) album, "4 Walls" released on Oct. 27, not the song's title track and leadoff single.

But for my money, the A&R folks at the group's label, SM Entertainment, got it right.

"4 Walls" is a catchy and bouncy dance pop barnstormer that takes as many cues from 90s and early-2000s US and UK electronic dance music, but also the current artists that were raised on it.

Formed by S.M. Entertainment in 2009, f(x) is currently comprised of four members: Victoria, Amber, Luna and Krystal.

In 2013, multi-national group became the first-ever K-pop act to perform at the Austin, Texas music festival South By Southwest. That same year, the American music television network Fuse put their second album "Pink Tape" on their list of "The 41 Best Albums of 2013."

The clear Western dance music influences continue on "4 Walls." The song's production features skippy drums that recall the British 2-step garage movement popular at the turn of the millennium. A heavy bass line wobbles in a way that brings to mind dubstep or the Northern England musical movement bassline house.

All of this happens within the context of a very melodic, very catchy K-pop song.

About a minute into the track, Amber spits a spirited rap that keeps the whole thing moving forward. Rapping over dance music has a storied history, from Chicago hip house to Pitbull. Amber does well by this tradition, keeping the energy level through the roof.

The sound of the mix brings to mind the sheen of one very contemporary British dance act in particular, Disclosure. That group synthesizes the history of house and garage music in America and England into a glossy whole, appropriate for mass contemporary consumption. f(x) does a similar trick on "4 Walls," with the added layer of some distinctly Korean melodic sensibilities.

The organ-generated bassline on "4 Walls" recalls the seminal US house track "Show Me Love" by Robin S. This is compounded with the fact that f(x) seems to not-so-subtly sing the phrase "you got to show" during parts of the song, a definite nod to the classic dance tune.

As the final chorus bangs away, an ultra-falsetto can be heard lifting things to the next level. A little bit of Mariah Carey-influence in the mix furthers this track's 90s feel.

Over the past half decade or so, f(x) has been continually pushing the sound of K-pop forward, and "4 Walls" is no exception. This song looks to the future while honoring the past. The result is as exciting as anything in the group's catalog.

Watch the video for "4 Walls" by f(x) RIGHT HERE

John Chiaverina is a musician and journalist living in New York City. He has performed in over 18 countries, including two tours of South Korea, under the name "Juiceboxxx."

Tagged :  f(x), 4 walls, review, Reviews, K-Pop, kpop, Kpop Stars

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